Optimism and energy are never in short supply for Zac Taylor, and the Bengals head coach is hoping to transform the offense with those traits in mind.
There is genuine excitement at Paul Brown Stadium with the addition of the 2019 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow, the returns of A.J. Green and Jonah Williams and productive incumbent starters in place like Tyler Boyd, Joe Mixon and Trey Hopkins.
Year 2 of the Zac Taylor Era has arrived, and the Bengals are ready to cash in their chips with offensive talent that displays depth, experience and skill. With veterans scheduled to report July 28, let's review.
Free Agents: WR Mike Thomas (Rams), G Xavier Su'a-Filo (Cowboys), Jacques Patrick (XFL, Tampa Bay Vipers)
Draft: QB Joe Burrow (draft), WR Tee Higgins (draft), G Hakeem Adeniji (draft)
College Free Agents: WR Scotty Washington, TE Mitchell Wilcox, RB Dewah Whaley, T Clay Cordasco, G Josh Knipfel
QB Andy Dalton (Cowboys), TE Tyler Eifert (Jaguars), G John Miller (Panthers), G John Jerry, T Cordy Glenn
WHO IS IN CAMP
Quarterback: Joe Burrow, Ryan Finley, Jake Dolegala
Running Back: Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Samaje Perine, Rodney Anderson, Trayveon Williams, Jacques Patrick, Dewah Whaley
Wide Receiver: A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Alex Erickson, Mike Thomas, John Ross, Auden Tate, Damion Willis, Stanley Morgan, Trenton Irwin, DaMarkus Lodge, Tee Higgins, Scotty Washington
Tight End: C.J. Uzomah, Cethan Carter, Mason Schreck, Jordan Franks, Drew Sample, Moritz Bohringer, Mitchell Wilcox
Offensive Line: G Xavier Su'a-Filo, C Trey Hopkins, RT Bobby Hart, G Alex Redmond; C-G Billy Price, T O'Shea Dugas, T Fred Johnson, G Michael Jordan, T Isaiah Prince, T Jonah Williams, G Hakeem Adeniji, G Clay Cordasco, T Josh Knipfel
DID YOU KNOW
Mixon and Boyd both eclipsed 1,000 yards in a season rushing and receiving respectively. It was the second straight year Mixon and Boyd each broke the 1,000-yard plateau in the same season. Only one other Bengals duo has accomplished those feats together in back-to-back seasons. Running back Rudi Johnson and wide receiver Chad Johnson did it twice in the 2004-05 seasons, and 2005-06 seasons.
PLAYER TO WATCH
Quarterback Joe Burrow: All eyes will be on No. 9, who enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in college football history. He won nearly every national award for a quarterback in 2019, claiming the Maxwell Award (College Player of the Year), the Walter Camp Player of the Year Award, the Davey O'Brien Award (National Quarterback of the Year), the Manning Award (National Quarterback of the Year), the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, and was named AP National Player of the Year. The sky is the limit for Burrow, especially with a strong and talented supporting cast to help him in year one.
Take a trip down memory lane to view images from Bengals training camp in years past.
POSITION BATTLE TO WATCH
Offensive Line: This group once had plenty of question marks. Now it could be the Bengals deepest and the most interchangeable group. Heading into training camp, the projected opening day offensive line is Williams at left tackle, Jordan at left guard, Hopkins at center, Su'a-Filo right guard spot and Hart right tackle. However, a lot can change between now and the Sept. 13 opener at home against the Chargers.
Price, the team's first round pick in 2018, is healthy again and can play any of the interior line spots. Redmond, who started 15 games two seasons ago, returns from a torn bicep and will be in the mix as well. Johnson and Prince are both second-year tackles who impressed in a limited amount of time last year after coming over from the Steelers and Dolphins respectively. Then there is Adeniji, the sixth-rounder who impressed the coaches at last year's Senior Bowl and brings a high level of intelligence and athleticism. Add in Dugas, Cordasco and Knipfel and there is a lot to like heading into camp.
Analysts will often discuss how offensive lines need time to jell. But based off the tape and the virtual interactions so far, the Bengals believe they have added some toughness upfront that was not there a year ago.
DID YOU KNOW PART II
It was a tale of two halves for Mixon in 2019. He ran for 320 yards with no touchdowns in the first eight games. After the bye in the last eight games he rushed for 817 yards on 4.6 yards per carry and five touchdowns.
VETERAN TO WATCH
TE C.J. Uzomah: With any new starting quarterback, there are a handful of players fans want to keep an eye on, but Uzomah might be the most intriguing piece of the puzzle. After losing Eifert to free agency, the Bengals feel confident enough to enhance his role. With Eifert missing the last 12 games of 2018, Uzomah enjoyed a break-out year with 43 catches for 439 yards and three touchdowns. Uzomah's numbers dipped in 2019 to a 27 receptions for 242 yards and two touchdowns with Eifert playing a full season. But with Uzomah's pass catching and blocking ability, he could be an X factor taking pressure off Burrow and boost the run game.