Barring a change, Devwah Whaley and his Cincinanti Bengals teammates will hold training camp near the end of July.
And while things are unorthodox, there are reasons for optimism. Here’s a look at a few major points to remember when thinking about a team trying to rebound from a two-win season.
It’s Year 2. Simple as that.
Odd as it might sound, the simple fact Zac Taylor and his staff head into their second seasons serves as a point of optimism. A year ago, the defense struggled with the multiple scheme and the offensive line didn’t seem to play consistently until late in the season.
In 2020? The carryovers have a full year of experience in the systems and the shellshock of playing for mostly the same staff for nearly 20 years is gone.
The Bengals have to be healthier in 2020, right?
Last year, the offense lost A.J. Green on the first day of camp and never got him back. First-round tackle Jonah Williams never played. The offensive line, John Ross and every level of the defense suffered major injuries.
At some point the luck has to turn, right?
It’s very clear Taylor and his staff would’ve liked to dramatically overhaul the roster last year after getting hired but ran out of time.
They had plenty of time this offseason.
The Bengals were one of free agency’s biggest spenders, adding D.J. Reader and Trae Waynes to the defense, to name a few of the big splashes. They sought out strong, proven players with leadership qualities and improved the roster before even hitting the field for camp.
Here’s one that doesn’t get a lot of attention.
The Bengals blatantly targeted team captains and vocal leaders in the draft. Free-agent targets were veterans and team captains who were likewise vocal and set the tone.
That’s by design.
For too long Cincinnati’s top stars have been as quiet as it gets, literally. It was noticeable and the new attitude will be a welcome one…a change headed up by the next guy on the list…
What is there to say that hasn’t been said about Burrow by now?
Coming off a historic collegiate season as one of the best passers to ever enter the draft in modern times, Burrow had led by example while commanding virtual meetings rooms — something that will surely translate to the field in camp.
Burrow’s a special prospect with a streak of attitude that sends trash talk at opponents and keeps the guys around him working with some swagger.
As weird as this summer is, from the potential roster reductions to strict rules and canceled preseason games, it’s important to remember one thing — the Bengals aren’t the only team dealing with this adversity.
Cincinnati faces the same hurdles as the rest of the league. There’s no major advantage given to certain teams one way or another. And with a remade roster and a prospect like Burrow under center, one could even suggest the Bengals are a bit of an unknown for opponents once camps end and regular-season games begin.