On July 23, the Cincinnati Bengals will kick off training camp in Cincinnati, Ohio on their practice fields adjacent to Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati. This is only the second year that the Bengals have held training camp close to home, where as in past years they have taken the show on the road down to Georgetown, Kentucky where they used Georgetown College’s facilities. Bringing training camp to the city of Cincinnati has really helped the city and the team form a sense of community that hasn’t really been there in past years.
The Bengals don’t really have too many position battles going into the 2014 season. What will be interesting to watch is how they incorporate BenJarvus Green-Ellis with young, power runners Giovani Bernard and rookie Jeremy Hill. Will Green-Ellis even make the team? It’s a question many have wondered about since the Bengals took Hill in the second round of the NFL draft back in May. Bernard proved last season in his rookie year that he has what it takes to be the starting guy for the Bengals in the back field, and Hill possesses many of the same qualities that Bernard does. Both are short, quick, and elusive, making it hard for defenders to bring them down. Green-Ellis is more of the hard hitting back, but with the speed and quickness Bernard and Hill have Green-Ellis looks to be out of the equation in the Bengals backfield in 2014. If the Bengals don’t cut him after camp, I see him having a very limited role in the offense, only coming in on short yardage or third downs.
Another thing to look for in camp this year is the recovery of defensive tackle Geno Atkins and cornerback Leon Hall. Atkins tore his ACL in the Halloween game against Miami last year and Hall tore his achilles tendon a week before that in a game against the Lions. Hall tore his other achilles in the 2011 season and had a fast and healthy recovery and played fine on it until he tore his achilles against Detroit last season. Hall is targeting to return for the start of training camp, and according to his doctors he is on pace to make that possible. If Hall can come back healthy, the duo of him and Darqueze Dennard could shut down opposing receivers and be a huge boost for the Bengal’s secondary.
Andy Dalton’s contract situation is going to be another interesting development to keep an eye on during camp. After Colin Kaepernick signed his contract with San Francisco, I think the Bengals saw that as an outline for Dalton’s contract, to set it up so that they have the option to opt out if it were ever necessary. Dalton has proved that he has what it takes to win games, but can he get the Bengals over the winless playoff hump?
There are no big, hovering questions the Bengals need to immediately answer in this training camp, as most positions have their set starters. They’ll mainly be working on incorporating their new rookies and improving an already very good team that made it to the playoffs for the third straight session in 2013.