CINCINNATI -- We're now one significant step closer to the start of the season.
With the arrival of organized team activities (OTAs) Tuesday, the Cincinnati Bengals are joining the rest of the league in transitioning to full-team practices. The 10 practices the Bengals are holding across the next three weeks are still voluntary, but expect the Bengals to have close to perfect attendance for them.
As those practices kick off Tuesday, here are a few players who could benefit from the extra springtime work:
CB William Jackson III: The first-round cornerback had an impressive showing during the Bengals' rookie camp two weeks ago, but now he has the chance to practice with veteran cornerbacks like Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick, and against Pro Bowler A.J. Green. Those times when Jackson gets Green one-on-one definitely could provide a confidence boost if the rookie can keep up with the veteran receiver. These next few weeks are Jackson's chance to prove to older teammates he belongs.
WR Tyler Boyd: Much like Jackson, Boyd is in the "show me" stage of his very young career. The pressure to perform may be a little more intense for this rookie, though, considering many are viewing him as the possible answer to the Bengals' No. 2 receiver quandary. Behind Green, uncertainty reigns at the receiver position. The Bengals' returning receivers besides Green had just three catches between them last season. Their free-agent addition, Brandon LaFell, is coming off a down year in New England, and for now, it's hard to say what he will be able to provide Cincinnati. LaFell likely will start off OTAs as the No. 2 receiver, but Boyd has every chance -- starting now -- to push past him.
LB Marquis Flowers: On the defensive side of the ball it's been easy to forget about Flowers, the third-year linebacker who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury. Mostly used on special teams as a rookie, Flowers will be hoping to compete this offseason and preseason for action at linebacker, too. Noted for his coverage ability when he was being drafted, the former college safety could definitely help the Bengals as they start polishing packages that focus on the coverage of tight ends and running backs. This is a big offseason for Flowers.
DE Margus Hunt: Few players on Cincinnati's roster are in Hunt's position. The defensive end is entering a contract year and the former second-round pick has been mostly underwhelming in his time in stripes. Injuries have certainly played a role in that. As he begins the fourth year of his rookie deal, Hunt needs to consistently flash in practices from now until the end of the year. Before injuries slowed him the past two seasons, coaches kept saying they thought he was closer and closer to finally putting it all together and having a promising career.
K Jonathan Brown: Remember this guy? A tryout player who made it past rookie camp, Brown still has a ways to go before he makes an NFL roster. He's currently the Bengals' third kicker. Maybe Cincinnati won't be his home long term, but in this camp he will have a chance to impress coaches enough that they'll have him back for training camp. If that happens, he'll be able to put some kicks on tape this preseason and perhaps catch the attention of another team. When he was signed earlier this month, Brown said the Bengals were the only team that reached out to him.