We’re less than a week away from the start of the Cincinnati Bengals training camp. This is a golden time for any football fan. The hope for a new season. Arguing with your buddies about who should start, or which player will have the biggest season. A chance to get revenge on your fiercest rivals. The time is here, and it is GLORIOUS!
But that’s not the only reason to get excited.
The Bengals have plenty of reasons to think they’ll be back in the playoffs in 2017. From the offense that should blow up like a bottle of shaken-up soda to seeing what a bunch of motivated players will do to get last year’s sour taste out of their mouths, 2017 will be a year to remember. Here are the top three things that get us jazzed ahead of Bengals training camp.
Bengals Training Camp: 3 Reasons to be Revved Up
1. Offensive weapons. The Bengals are loaded this year. Armed to the teeth. Remember that scene in the movie Commando when Schwarzenegger paddles to the beach and then spends the next couple of minutes gearing up for the big gun battle? That’s how fans should feel when reading Cincinnati’s offensive depth chart.
Andy Dalton is ready to follow up on his 4,206-yard performance from last year. And for the first time in what seems like forever, he’ll have to make up his mind about who to chuck the pigskin to. All-Pro wide receiver AJ Green returns after being painfully close to a 1,000-yard receiving season despite only starting 10 games. Tyler Boyd, Brandon LaFell, Cody Core, rookies John Ross and Josh Malone … the WR list goes on. Don’t forget about tight end Tyler Eifert (more on him in a minute).
With defenses being so busy trying to stop Dalton and Co., it will open up the running game. If the O-line can gel – and that’s a big if – then Jeremy Hill should build upon his 839-yard campaign from last year. Giovani Bernard collected 673 yards from scrimmage. Draft pick Joe Mixon gained 1,812 total yards and scored 15 touchdowns last year at Oklahoma. The firepower’s there.
2. Jordan Willis. Cincy averaged 2.1 sacks per game last year. That tied them for 19th in the NFL. They need a boost, and third-round draft pick Jordan Willis could be the one that gives it to them. He racked up 11.5 sacks for the Wildcats in 2016 and was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the year. He has good burst and plays at a position of need. The Bengals had plenty of close games last season. If Willis’ rush can stop even one 3rd-and-long, it could flip the game in the Bengals’ favor. We say he’ll stop a lot more than one.
3. Contract years for Burfict and Eifert. It’s the perfect storm for these two players. Eifert and linebacker Vontaze Burfict spent big chunks of last season banged up and suspended, respectively. Now they are healthy, ready to prove something, and in the final year of their contracts. If that doesn’t motivate you to hit, catch, tackle and score, what will?