The offseason program is finally in the home stretch.
The Bengals are one of 23 teams that begin mandatory minicamps this week. The other nine started their minicamps the week of June 3.
For players and coaches heading into 2019, these are the most important practice sessions to date.
The NFL's offseason program consists of three phases. Phase One is all about conditioning and meetings. Phase Two allows on-field workouts, without helmets or offense vs. defense work. In Phase Three, there are organized team activities (OTAs) and a veteran minicamp.
The offseason program, with the exception of the three-day minicamp in June, is voluntary, but every player on the Bengals roster was in the building this spring.
No pads are allowed during mandatory minicamp, but players can take part in up to 3.5 hours of on-field activity a day. After minicamp, the Bengals enjoy a six-week respite that ends Friday, July 26 when the players report for the start of training camp.
On the surface, the three minicamp practices will differ little from the OTAs held the past three weeks. The work remains non-padded and non-contact in nature, but are key in terms of teaching and implementing schemes.
The Bengals kick off the regular season in Seattle against the Seahawks on Sept. 8. The Bengals' home opener is set for Week 2 when San Francisco comes to Cincinnati for a 1 p.m. kickoff on Sept. 15.