CINCINNATI -- The defending AFC North champion Cincinnati Bengals wrapped up their mandatory minicamp Thursday.
Here are some final notes and observations:
Let’s start with the stars of minicamp. On offense, I thought receiver Jordan Shipley was very impressive. The third-round pick caught everything this week. He's already developing a good rapport with quarterback Carson Palmer, and Shipley has a good knack for finding the open seams of the defense. Defensively, starting cornerback Leon Hall recorded two picks in team drills and nearly made a third after jumping a route Thursday. One of his interceptions was returned for a touchdown.
Third-year receiver Jerome Simpson had a very good practice Thursday. He made several spectacular catches, which is what the Bengals were expecting when they drafted him in the second round in 2008. But there were also some drops from Simpson this week. Consistency will be key if he's to make the 53-man roster.
On the injury front, Antonio Bryant (veteran's rest) and safety Roy Williams (groin) sat out the final practice. Right tackle Andre Smith (foot), linebacker Rey Maualuga (ankle) and running back Bernard Scott (ankle) missed all of minicamp but are expected to return for training camp.
One thing is apparent defensively: Cincinnati wants to get after the quarterback. The Bengals are making more aggressive changes to improve their sack total from a year ago. Cincinnati was ranked No. 16 in the NFL with 34 sacks. The Bengals have very strong cornerbacks with Johnathan Joseph and Hall, which should help with coverage on the back end when bringing extra defenders.
Hall, Joseph and Palmer received their Pro Football Writers Association awards for the 2009 season. Both cornerbacks credited one another for helping win team co-MVPs. Palmer also said he was honored to win the Good Guy Award because his locker room had other good candidates.
Finally, I kept a close eye on Cincinnati's kicking competition this week but not much was decided. Mike Nugent was 12 for 12 in field goal attempts this week, and Dave Rayner was 11 for 12, missing only a 55-yard attempt. At this rate, don't expect anything to be decided until late in the preseason.