The Zac Taylor era officially kicked into a higher gear Tuesday when the Bengals opened their off-season program and took advantage of the NFL allowing teams with new head coaches to meet in early April.
It is Taylor's first chance to meet with his players, but, just as importantly, the team gets its first in-depth look at the health of players rehabbing from injuries. Wide receiver A.J. Green (toe) and quarterback Andy Dalton (thumb) top the list and it's a fitting way to start the 35-year-old Taylor's agenda. For many teams around the NFL -- especially the well-established ones -- the goal of their offseason program is simply to stay healthy and get in some work. The Bengals are in a different place, with Taylor taking charge as the team's new leader and establishing his vision.
Welcome back to the Jungle! Check out photos of the Bengals arriving at Paul Brown Stadium for the first day of the team's off-season program on April 9, 2019.
Phase I of the workouts take up the first half of April. When the Bengals take the field for the next two weeks, only strength and conditioning coaches may join them. No actual football takes place in this stage. More importantly for new coaches, the meeting periods enable them to go over their new playbooks and get a feel for their players.
Phase II starts the third week of April and ends in mid-May. That phase is interrupted by an extra April 23-25 voluntary minicamp, another bonus for new head coaches.
Phase III, which includes 10 practices, take up the rest of May leading to that final mandatory minicamp in mid-June, the only part of the off-season program that is not voluntary. No contact is allowed at any point during the off-season and helmets don't go on until Phase III.
The Bengals, Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers and New York Jets elected to begin workouts this week instead of the earliest start time of April 1. Waiting seven days allows franchises to operate their off-season programs without breaking for a week. The rest of the NFL teams can begin off-season workouts April 15.