- Coley Harvey, ESPN Staff Writer
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CINCINNATI -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of the Cincinnati Bengals' training camp:
It was hard not to notice how efficient starting quarterback Andy Dalton was Thursday as he connected with a number of his receivers during the Bengals' first day of camp. While the short and intermediate routes impressed at times, it was his work with the deep ball that caused the estimated 1,200 fans on hand to "ooh" and "ahh" at times. Few receptions drew applause from onlookers like the bomb Dalton completed late in practice to receiver A.J. Green. Thrown approximately 50 yards on the fly, Green settled underneath the pass just before crossing the goal line. Like he had done often during the day, he got behind the secondary for the unimpeded catch. This time, it was Adam Jones who was beat. Green said after practice that much of his focus this offseason has revolved around improving his deep-ball relationship with Dalton. "It starts with me being able to run my routes consistently and knowing where I need to be for him to place the ball," Green said. "I feel like with [new offensive coordinator] Hue [Jackson] it's all detail. It's going to be right here in this spot and that's where [Dalton] is going to put the ball."
Green wasn't the only one snagging passes from Dalton. Receiver Mohamed Sanu, getting a lot of attention with No. 2 wideout Marvin Jones shelved with an injury, had a few "hands" receptions that featured him snaring the ball out of the air just before his defender could make a play on it. One of those catches came early in the workout when he beat a corner deep and jumped high for a ball that Dalton lobbed to a spot on the sideline where only Sanu could make the play. It certainly appears early in camp that the time Dalton spent working on his mechanics with throwing coach Tom House in Southern California this summer have paid off. Then again, maybe we should all remember what Jackson said about the quarterback after practice: "It's only Day 1." While pleased with Dalton's afternoon, he's still exercising some patience.
Patience is exactly what has gotten cornerback Leon Hall through the past three seasons. He missed most of the 2011 season because of an Achilles tear, and missed more than half of last season because of one. After being sidelined all spring, he was back on the field for the first time Thursday. About overcoming his latest injury, he said: "Mentally, it's easier the second time. Not even close. I mean, the first time going into my goal was to come back for training camp, and I felt I could achieve that goal, but obviously I was going into it blind. I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know what to do as opposed to this second time."
Fellow veteran defensive tackle Geno Atkins also dealt with a season-ending injury last season. Unlike Hall, though, he was unable to return in time for Thursday's practice. He joined Jones and others in rehab exercises as he continues trying to get past the ACL tear that had him miss half of last season. With fellow tackle Devon Still also injured, Atkins was replaced on the line's interior by Brandon Thompson.
Back to the Bengals' passing game. With Jermaine Gresham nursing a back injury, fellow tight end Tyler Eifert will have a chance this preseason to do something he didn't do most of the spring: play. He said his springtime shoulder injury was fully healed. Like Green and Sanu, he had a few attention-grabbing receptions Thursday.
6hEric D. Williams