- Coley Harvey, ESPN Staff Writer
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CINCINNATI -- Warmest of Father's Day wishes to all the fathers, sons and daughters who are following along with our Cincinnati Bengals coverage this Sunday.
Hopefully you also caught our feature earlier this morning on the added meaning Father's Day has taken in Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still's life following this whirlwind year for him and his 5-year-old daughter, Leah.
As we switch gears, let's open up Part 2 of this weekend's mailbag with a question about another proud Bengals father, Marvin Jones:
@ColeyHarvey simple, is the coaching staff as confident in Marvin Jones (specifically his health) as they appear to be?
— Zak Kondratenko (@ZakKondratenko) June 19, 2015
@ColeyHarvey. Thanks for the question, Zak. Simple answer: Yes. Without a shadow of a doubt, Bengals coaches are as confident in Marvin Jones' health and style of play as you've undoubtedly read in recent days. Receivers coach James Urban is among the most impressed. He told me a couple days ago that this spring was "baptism by fire" as it pertained to Jones. It was all about getting the rust off the wide out by putting him through every scenario he should face this season. Urban was pleased with what he saw, as was Jones. He was quick and crisp in his routes and started sharpening his timing with quarterback Andy Dalton by the end of the minicamp that concluded Thursday.
Health-wise, Jones told me Thursday he has no lingering effects of the foot and ankle injuries that held him out all of last season. He feels perfectly fine and made it through the practices without any issues. I think it's safe to say Jones is back.
@ColeyHarvey how is Tyler Eifert looking? Healthy?
— Tyler Mercurio (@Mercurio_RFB) June 19, 2015
@ColeyHarvey. I'm probably going to sound like a broken record, Tyler, but Tyler Eifert looked just like Jones. He had a strong spring, too. While Jones was allowed to participate fully in full-team drills, you didn't see Eifert going through the same paces all that often. He was being brought along a little slower mainly because coaches and trainers simply didn't want to run the risk of getting him hurt. He's fully recovered from late-season shoulder surgery, and his dislocated elbow has healed. Still, they wanted to err on the side of caution when it came to putting Eifert in situations where he could fall to the ground stretching for passes. After all, that's how he hurt the shoulder in the first place during the Bengals' very first practice last spring.
Otherwise, yes, Eifert looks healthy. He caught virtually everything thrown his way during open practices, and looked sharp in his routes. The additions of him and Jones will be tremendous this season. That can't be understated.
@ColeyHarvey Coley: I'm very interested in what role A.J. McCarren will play this year and your opinion of his Bengal's future
— Crow T. Robot (@CincinnatiSage) June 19, 2015
@ColeyHarvey. Well, Crow, I'll put it this way: if you see AJ McCarron in the regular season or postseason, something bad must have happened to Andy Dalton. McCarron simply isn't ready to be a full-on starter. Not to mention, the Bengals continue to stand by their unwavering stance that the $115-million man, Dalton, is their Signal-Caller in Chief. As far as the role McCarron will play this season, I'd expect him to be the No. 2 quarterback, used as Dalton's reliever in blowout games or if he gets injured. It's worth mentioning that Dalton hasn't missed a start since getting drafted in 2011. The future still looks bright for McCarron. He was impressive at times this spring and showed an aggressiveness that coaches had to enjoy seeing. The second-year quarterback probably won't be the Bengals' starter in 2016, either, but he should have a future beyond that. It will be really interesting to see where Dalton is then. If he's winning playoff games and McCarron is improving, Cincinnati could be in the enviable position of having two starter-worthy quarterbacks. Could that scenario really happen, though?
@ColeyHarvey what do see as the hottest battle in camp?
— Rich Kissinger (@rich591) June 19, 2015
@ColeyHarvey. It's tough to pick just one, Rich. But here are the ones that most intrigue me for now: The battle for the No. 2 receiver job, the backup tight end job, and the backup defensive end battle between Margus Hunt and Will Clarke. I picked the No. 2 receiver spot as one of the more intriguing camp battles because Jones certainly has looked early on like he's going to reclaim his spot behind A.J. Green. Mohamed Sanu also was very productive this spring and was the top dog at the position when Green was out with various injuries last season. As for the tight end battle, I'm just mostly interested to see if Tyler Kroft really will be the second tight end alongside Eifert, or if he'll be beaten by a teammate, like C.J. Uzomah. As for Hunt and Clarke, the latter has impressed teammates all spring, while a back injury has kept Hunt on the shelf. He expects to be back by training camp. Desperate to prove himself, Hunt has no choice but to impress this August if he wants be part of the regular defensive end rotation. If the former second-rounder is as hungry as he should be, that could be an intense position battle.