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Bengals wake-up call: Three areas to watch

8/8/2014

CINCINNATI -- As the Cincinnati Bengals get going with Day 12 of training camp, here are three items we are going to be watching:

Special teams tweaks? Of the three phases of the sport, the Bengals were at their worst on special teams in Thursday's 41-39 loss at Kansas City. Not only did they surrender one punt return for touchdown, but they also allowed a long kick return and seemed to have trouble staying in lanes and approaching returners with proper angles on those same coverage teams. Punter Kevin Huber was mostly solid, averaging 44.5 yards per punt. His net average of 20.3 wasn't all that great, though, and was primarily a result of the 80-yard punt-return touchdown. One would imagine that special teams -- and tackling -- would draw the Bengals' attention in Saturday's practice, their first since the Thursday-night shootout. I'll be watching to see how much of an emphasis gets placed on correcting those special teams miscues, but there's also a chance that this practice will primarily be devoted to the offense and defense. Like last Saturday, the Bengals are hosting "Family Day" festivities -- the last of this summer -- that are expected to feature a mock scrimmage. The public practice begins at 3 p.m. ET.

Rookie watch: Will Clarke. One of the rookies who I haven't watched as closely as the others this camp is defensive end Will Clarke. With his position group appearing to be set this season, he hasn't earned quite the same attention as first-, second, and fourth-round picks Darqueze Dennard, Jeremy Hill and Russell Bodine. Those three seem poised to have extensive playing time this season. Clarke, already is behind Carlos Dunlap, Margus Hunt, Wallace Gilberry and Robert Geathers at his position. That depth chart makes it appear it will be a little harder for him to get on the field. But will it? At times Thursday he looked more fluid and more natural than Hunt, the second-year player who still is learning the added nuances of playing the position. Both young ends had two tackles against the Chiefs. Hunt added a sack.

Injury updates. With coach Marvin Lewis holding a midday news conference and the Bengals gearing up for another preseason game next Saturday, a few injury updates might come on Day 12. Quarterback Jason Campbell was to be evaluated Friday after taking a hard shot to his throwing elbow in the third quarter of the game. Depending upon the severity of the injury, Cincinnati could be forced in the coming days into looking for another quarterback to assist with depth until Campbell returns healthy. He had two touchdowns and two interceptions Thursday. Dennard, the rookie corner, also had an injury that ran him from the game. Gilberry was another who left a little banged up. For sure, they weren't the only ones. We'll be watching to see who all practices.