Bengals Notebook: Hendrickson's Offseason Paying Off Early In Training Camp; The Ego-less Tyler Boyd

Vintage Tyler Boyd.
Vintage Tyler Boyd.

In the 2020s, only one man has more sacks than Trey Hendrickson, the Bengals' economical edge rusher. And with 28, Cleveland edger Myles Garrett has only half a sack more.

The closest to them is the Saints' Cam Jordan, way back there with 20.

But after a torrid first two years of the decade with 23 sacks in his last 25 games to go on top of a Bengals-record 14 sacks in his first year in Cincinnati last season, Hendrickson isn't thinking sacks.

Just hits.

"I go one game at a time. I don't set goals accordingly," Hendrickson said before Monday's practice. "Seasons are unpredictable. There's 100 percent injury rate, whether there's a bruise or a really (bad one). All I know is I'm going to impact games hitting the quarterback and that's my job and that's why I'm in this building. Putting numbers on it isn't as important as winning games. I'm just as excited to affect the quarterback, win my one-on-ones and twos and get to the quarterback."

But Hendrickson believes what is ever out there, there is more of it than last year.

"I have bigger goals," Hendrickson said. "I didn't even play the last game. I was banged up for a couple of other games, too. I think there's a lot of food left on the table for me and the rest of the guys. We're only going to get better from what we did last year."

BOYD SEES RED: That's on defense. The most senior Bengal on offense, slot receiver Tyler Boyd, is looking to improve the red zone offense, where the Bengals finished basically in the middle of the pack (17th) with a touchdown percentage of 60. (Not bad, but it stings because they were 33 percent in the Super Bowl.)

"That's an area where we can take more advantage," Boyd said. "Everybody being sound. Simple things. Staying on-sides. Playing together. Doing the simple things right. Staying connected and just doing their job like we do the way we go down the field. Guys not getting tired and going through brain farts, we'll score every time."

HENDRICKSON REFRESHED: Hendrickson was the only player under contract not here in the spring during the voluntaries, but it was an amicable decision for both sides.

"The coaches kept me filled in," Hendrickson said. "They checked in a lot. Anything that was changed was relayed to me. I understood all of the assignments. They had faith in me, I had faith in them and we're on the same page.

"There's no organization I'd rather play for. Being able to help win games here is important."

Hendrickson's offseason was more than getting away after a long season. He stayed in Nashville to be with his wife while she pursues her pharmacy doctorate at Lipscomb University.

"I feel like I developed a lot of things. I wanted to help her. I got better as a player and obviously a husband," Hendrickson said. "Continuing to grow as a man is important to me. She has one more year before she graduates in May.

"It was important to me to take care of her as much as she took care of me."

And he thinks his offseason is showing up on the field in a brief camp he's already ripped off what looks to be vintage late-season rushes.

"If you get an offseason like I've had," Hendrickson said. "You should improve."

NO DIVAS NEED APPLY: The wide receiver position still has plenty of divas around the league. But, it seems, not in Cincinnati, home of the league's best trio. The group is personified by Boyd, a two-time 1,000-yard receiver who watched Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgins get there last year while he had his fewest catches (67), targets (94) and yards (828) since 2017, a year he was benched for a stretch.

And he's fine with that because he says all that matters is what's on tape.

"I got fewer targets, but I still made my opportunities work," Boyd said. "I think there are so many guys around the league that can't handle that. I think guys get kind of upset if they haven't had more targets and complain about another guy getting more targets.

"At the end of the day it's a business. Everybody sees what you're doing. If you don't get the ball, make sure you're open. The tape doesn't lie. As long as you're doing your job and the coaches see the ball could have been to you, that's what it's about."

SLANTS AND SCREENS: Hendrickson reflected on his meteoric rise Monday when he talked about his matchup with new Bengals tight end Hayden Hurst when both were in the NFC South, Hendrickson with the Saints and Hurst with the Falcons.

"I was only playing about 48 percent of the time," said Hendrickson, who actually played 46 percent two years in a row before his break-out year in 2020.

He also recalled being inactive 11 times in 2018: "I've walked every walk in the NFL." …

Boyd on Hurst: I was shocked how smooth he was getting in and out of his breaks. Once he gets fundamentally sound in the offense, I think that's when we'll see him explode."

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