CINCINNATI -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Cincinnati Bengals training camp:
Perhaps the best word to describe the Bengals' 16th and final training-camp practice Thursday afternoon was "chill." It certainly was a low-speed, low-intensity type of workout as the offense and defense went through a series of drills that hinged on fine-tuning a few situations and rotations, and resting starters ahead of Saturday night's preseason home opener against the Jets. Players ditched their shells and pads for the first time since last Tuesday, and kept the contact to a minimum. It was "chill" for another reason, but we'll get to that a little further down.
Early in the practice the Bengals went back to the basics, working on a few position-specific fundamentals. It felt a lot like the first day of training camp. They devoted a large amount of time trying to make sure some of what had been taught to this point in the preseason had been retained. Once those position drills ended, the Bengals shifted to 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 exercises. Starting quarterback Andy Dalton looked sharp in those situations. According to one Cincinnati Enquirer reporter who was keeping track, Dalton was 24-for-26 combined in those drills. One of the sequences involving Dalton that most impressed me had to do with a pair of throws he completed to A.J. Green. At the end of one red zone drill, Dalton delivered a perfectly placed pass on a back-shoulder fade to Green who got both feet in bounds in the end zone, dragging them into the back pylon. One play later, the pair hooked up again for a long completion after Green put a double move on cornerback Onterio McCalebb. It was the second straight play McCalebb was burned.
Dalton has delivered passes like both of those to his receivers during this camp. His anticipation and trust in his receivers' routes has been noteworthy. That's something quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese told me earlier this month that he had worked with Dalton on: learning to trust his receivers and knowing that they'll be in the spot he delivers the ball even if they don't turn their heads before it's thrown. That was the case on those two throws and others Dalton had Thursday. Here's what Dalton said to reporters about the end of camp: "We've had a really good camp. We've gotten what we wanted out of it and it's not over yet. We still have several more preseason games to go, but we've done a good job so far."
While the practice was full of noncontact work for the players, a different story played out for the coaches. After getting challenged by Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and a few of his staff members took part in the social media-inspired Ice Bucket Challenge to raise funds and awareness for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (commonly called ALS or "Lou Gehrig's disease"). Lewis, offensive coordinator Hue Jackson and co-defensive backs coach Mark Carrier were among those who got doused by ice water dumped out of Gatorade buckets by linebacker Rey Maualuga and a few trainers.
Injury update: Several of the players who either sat out Wednesday's practice or were banged-up earlier this week returned to practice Thursday. A few, like linebacker Vontaze Burfict, offensive tackle Andre Smith and defensive end Wallace Gilberry, were limited. They participated in position drills but that was it. Those who completely missed practice included: Sean Porter, Dre Kirkpatrick, Tyler Eifert, Andrew Whitworth, Jason Campbell, AJ McCarron and Jermaine Gresham. Eifert and Gresham still may play Saturday. It appeared they, like Whitworth, were simply being given the day off.
Up next: The Bengals are done with their open practices for the year. Monday begins the limited media-only availability that will last through the season.