Hard to call what the Bengals did Thursday night at Paul Brown Stadium.
They were in full uniform. They could see themselves on the scoreboard. There was music along with the NFL's '60s laugh track they're calling crowd noise. The coaches' headsets were out and the lights were on.
You couldn't call it a Mock Game because they were running at less than half speed. You couldn't call it a walkthrough, either, because there were no coaches on the field. So maybe something like "Situational Seminar," because the thrust of the evening seemed to be making sure everybody is in the right place at the right time as they went through their sub packages and special kicking game plays.
They also worked at running on to the field and it looked like a pair of veterans, running back Giovani Bernard and middle linebacker Josh Bynes, led them out.
Bernard actually summed it up pretty well during his media shot early Thursday afternoon.
"I think a lot of it is getting everybody out there together and getting an understanding for how we kind of run game day," Bernard said. "Obviously we've got some younger guys here we haven't really played any pre-season games. It's an opportunity – for myself, too – to remember where we go on the field before the game. It will be fun just to get back out there on the field with some lights out there."
And, except for the no-fans thing in the opener at PBS on Sept. 13 against the Chargers: (OK, and no media in the locker room probably ever this year), Thursday night should be the last abnormal NFL event of this pandemic. The Colts were supposed to be here Thursday for the pre-season finale instead of that situational seminar.
But the Chargers will be here in nine days, per the schedule. The Bengals have an hour practice Friday morning with no media access before taking the weekend off as the coaches, scouts and ownership cut the roster on Saturday to 53 players and revise it Sunday while putting together the 16-man practice squad. That's pretty normal and so is the ever so brief Labor Day team picture day/workout on Monday morning.
Wide receiver A.J. Green looks like he's ready to play in his first game since Dec. 2, 2018. He hasn't done much since tweaking his hamstring two weeks ago, but he was up and at it Thursday night and supplied one of the best moments of this awful summer on its last weekend when his sweaty game face popped up on the scoreboard. In fact, he probably did as much as he would have done in the pre-season finale warmups.
No news out of here. They're trying desperately to keep their defensive line healthy after a training camp they got murdered at tackle. So the top three tackles, Geno Atkins, D.J. Reader and Mike Daniels, didn't dress Thursday.
Yes, you can pretty much expect them to grab a big body off the waiver wire if one surfaces.
Strong Safety Shawn Williams (calf) and linebacker Jordan Evans (hamstring) weren't out there and they've been hoping they'll be ready for game week, which, basically, is here.
More waiver wire possibilities? Well, if they think there's anyone with jaw-dropping talent no matter the position, they'll claim him. As one of their club execs said the other day, "We're in the talent business." And if there's someone that plays what they view at a premium position and they've got good grades on them from past NFL and college seasons, keep an eye on that.
But as another exec said about going to the waiver wire for a player after a preseason with no games and thus no footage of anyone: "If they even exist." Kidding, of course, but the point is well made.
How do you know what they look like now?
Besides defensive tackle, they could be in the market for a cornerback. No one knows if Trae Waynes is going to play this season. Darius Phillips, who was on the field Thursday, has been getting rested. LeShaun Sims has been dealing with personal matters.
Here is one offensive assistant coach' view of Joe Burrow, per running backs coach Jemal Singleton. "I'm the running back guy, I'm not getting into how he throws, how he runs it. But I look at the intangibles," Singleton said. "I look at leadership. I look at the poise. I look at the other things that are extremely important no matter what position.
"I watch this rookie come out on the field day one, first time in uniform, the command of the huddle, call the plays correctly. All those little things you sometime take for granted he's shown that he has. I've just kind of enjoyed watching the other stuff. Now, throwing it and all that is good, too. But those are the things that have really caught my eye. "