After nearly two weeks of training camp on the practice fields next door , the Cincinnati Bengals moved across the street on Saturday afternoon to the friendly confines of Paul Brown Stadium, holding practice and hosting the first of two Family Days. Fans were allowed to park for free and enter the stadium for free while the team held family-friendly activities in addition to regular practice.
Saturday’s practice was something pulled out of the past by head coach Marvin Lewis, a mock game much like the ones the team used to play when they trained at Georgetown College. The controlled scrimmage resembled a game of touch football with the players in pads and shorts and matched the 1’s versus the 2’s, captained by Andy Dalton and backup Jason Campbell, and turned out to be a highlight film for quarterback Dalton and second-year tight end Eifert.
Dalton was sharp all day, completing 17 of 21 passes for an unofficial 200+ yards. On the opening drive for the first team offense, he hit Eifert for a touchdown, one of three the tight end likely would have corralled if the scrimmage rules hadn’t stopped two of them. With Jermaine Gresham yet to practice because of injury, Eifert has moved to number one on the depth chart and today’s six-catch performance did nothing to hurt that standing.
“Tyler makes big plays, that’s what he did in college,” said Dalton after practice. “That’s what we expect from him now and he’s getting in the right spot with the looks that we want and we are hitting him.”
“We’re all playing with a lot of confidence and we know what we are going to be and we know what we’re doing,” continued the Bengals signal-caller. “We’re having a lot of fun out there and I feel like I’ve done a good job so far.”
Dalton also connected with All-Pro receiver A.J. Green on a couple of long completions, both of which were called back when offensive pass interference was whistled on the Bengals wide receiver by the crew of NFL officials, both calls questioned by the sidelines.
With so many offensive weapons on his plate, new offensive coordinator Hue Jackson knows his group just needs to keep working.
“We’re still a work in progress and we’ve still got guys that are not practicing,” said Jackson. “The quarterback has done a good job and I think the guys are really starting to understand what we’re trying to accomplish. That’s what it’s all about. As long as our guys stay focused on what it is we are trying to do and come out every day with the right mindset and the right effort, great things will happen.”
After two weeks of camp banging on each other, the Bengals open their exhibition season next Thursday night as they make a visit to the Kansas City Chiefs, the team that provided the opposition in the very first Bengals’ game ever, a pre-season contest on Aug. 3, 1968. Just like the Bengals, the Chiefs finished 11-5 last season and the trip to Arrowhead should be a good test.
“I hope out guys are excited about it, particularly the young guys,” said Coach Lewis. “It will be good to go against some good players from another team.”
Thursday’s kickoff is scheduled for 8 p.m..