It is that time of year Bengals fans.
We are in August, the team has already started training camp and things are starting to roll as the first preseason game approaches on August 10th. There is a different vibe or feel in the air. With Marvin Lewis gone after 17 seasons, first year head coach Zac Taylor brings an unfamiliar feeling of hope and confidence.
For example, Taylor adding play clocks at practice is something that can help the Bengals with their past struggles related to time management. “Last year the level of accountability wasn’t there. This year it is,” says Jessie Bates, second year strong safety, to Jeremy Rauch of FOX 19.
But this year, this year just feels different. Sure, the Bengals lost first round pick Jonah Williams to a torn labrum and A.J. Green suffered an ankle injury from landing awkwardly on Dre Kirkpatrick at Welcome Stadium in Dayton last weekend. Bengals wide receivers, Damion Willis, Josh Malone, Auden Tate and Stanley Morgan seem to be stepping up at training camp. There has been a lot of buzz around UDFA receiver Damion Willis at camp so far. Morgan, an un-drafted free agent from Nebraska, has made several impressive catches. Auden Tate, who shined during the preseason last year, never really got many opportunities during the regular season in 2018. Hopefully this season he will get the chance he deserves.
The Bengals brought back star tight end Tyler Eifert on a one year deal after he suffered a nasty ankle injury against Atlanta last season. Keeping Eifert healthy will be a big factor as to how this season will go. With the offensive line being a weak point, Andy Dalton is gonna have to get the ball out quickly. Eifert is like a safety blanket for Dalton who he can always count on being open in between the hashes to get a nice chunk of yards.
Also, who can forget about Joe Mixon, who despite missing 2 games to a knee injury last injury, lead the AFC in rushing with 1,168 yards and 8 touchdowns while averaging 4.9 yards per carry with one of the worst offensive lines in the league. That is very impressive. You can expect Mixon to be even better this season in Zac Taylor’s new scheme. With Green being out for some time to begin the season, Mixon should be counted on to carry the load, even Giovani Bernard may have a bigger role under Taylor’s new offense.