Postcard from Cincinnati
June, 11, 2013
By Jamison Hensley | ESPN.com
CINCINNATI -- I'll be putting up more posts from Bengals camp Wednesday morning before I get to Pittsburgh. I also filled up the notebook for a Bengals column that will run later this month. Until then, here are some observations from Tuesday's mandatory minicamp practice:
- Quarterback Andy Dalton has really worked on getting rid of the ball quicker. He put the ball in the right spots, but he wasn't helped out by his receivers. I counted six drops in the two-hour practice: Mohamed Sanu (two), Tyler Eifert, Dane Sanzenbacher, Daniel Herron and Jermaine Gresham. Dalton's best pass of the day traveled about 50 yards in the air to -- surprise -- A.J. Green. His worst showing was getting the ball knocked down twice at the line of scrimmage when the defense had an all-out blitz.
- Coach Marvin Lewis said he was going to keep Rey Maualuga at middle linebacker and that hasn't changed. Vontaze Burfict, who led the team in tackles last season, is still running at outside linebacker. It was strange to see former Steelers linebacker James Harrison wearing the striped helmet. His switch to the 4-3 defense has been a big topic in town, but he seemed comfortable in the defense and didn't hesitate in reacting to the play. Harrison did drop back into coverage more than I was expecting.
- Don't rule out George Iloka from the competition for the starting strong safety spot. A fifth-round pick from a year ago, Iloka is going to get a chance to win that job. Many assumed the Bengals would either go with Taylor Mays, rookie third-round pick Shawn Williams or Jeromy Miles. Iloka stands 6-foot-4, so he brings some length to that position.
- You only have to watch Tuesday's practice to see why the Bengals used a first-round pick on a tight end. Gresham wasn't on the same page with Dalton all day. They even had a talk after one play where there was an obvious miscommunication. After Gresham dropped a pass over the middle, Dalton went to Eifert on the next play and the No. 21 overall pick caught it. Eifert passes the eyeball test. He is a massive target, and the Bengals haven't even put pads on.
- Some other few notes: Cornerback Adam Jones, who pleaded not guilty to an assault charge earlier in the day, fielded punts at practice. Jones, who previously injured his calf, didn't participate in team drills ... Rookie sixth-round pick Cobi Hamilton can run. He got behind the defense two times, but backup Josh Johnson overthrew him. ... Sanu made a nice catch in traffic before letting two other passes go through his hands ... Without their starting offensive tackles (Andrew Whitworth is recovering from a knee scope and Andre Smith is absent), the Bengals went with Anthony Collins at left tackle and Dennis Roland on the right side.