Monday, August 3, 2009
Bengals training camp notes
By James Walker
Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker
GEORGETOWN, Ky. -- Monday is our final day in Cincinnati Bengals training camp. It's been an interesting four days with one of the most popular sleeper picks in the NFL this season.
Here are some finals notes and observations on the Bengals before we move on to visit the other three AFC North teams:
- I will start with a personal opinion: The chemistry with this year's Bengals is as good as I've seen. I've covered Cincinnati or the AFC North in some capacity since 2004, and this is the best Bengals locker room, as a group, that I can remember. In a league built for every team to finish 8-8, good chemistry is one of the few things that separate NFL teams. My early impression is that the usually up-and-down Bengals have a rare chance this season for chemistry not to be an issue.
- Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer returned to practice Monday after missing the last two sessions over the weekend. According to a source, Palmer was dealing with flu-like symptoms, and on Monday he confirmed that it was bronchitis. He still looked slightly under the weather but appears to be getting over the illness.
- It is still eerily quiet on the Andre Smith front. The first-round tackle missed his fourth day Monday as the team continues its negotiations. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis did not take a hard-line stance recently when asked about Smith. Lewis praised the rookie's abilities to be a productive player and virtually left the door open for Smith to earn a starting job by Week 1. But this stance is always subject to change based on the amount of time Smith is out.
- The Bengals roster appears overstocked in some areas, which could lead to trade options later this summer. Several positions such as defensive line, receiver and maybe even linebacker have a lot of players who could contribute but not enough reps to go around. With Cincinnati's lengthy history of injuries, it may be wise to maintain depth. But the Bengals do have some bargaining chips for trades that might help weaker areas on the team.
- Rookie tight end Chase Coffman still looks bothered by his foot injury. The size and hands are apparent and the primary reason he was taken in the third round by the Bengals. But so far Coffman still appears a half-step slow in running his routes, and he's not taking any days off to rest the sore foot.
- As far as HBO's Hard Knocks, overall the process got off to a good start. The coaches didn't seem too bothered by it, but it has looked a little unnatural for some players. Cameras are everywhere in Georgetown, and some players, like receiver Chad Ochocinco, appear to be having fun with it while others are more reserved. After living and experiencing the first four days of training camp, I'm curious to see how it's portrayed on camera.