CINCINNATI — Bengals training camp starts today and there are plenty of things I'll be watching for over the next few weeks.
How does Joe Burrow look? Is Ja'Marr Chase the real deal? Will this remade defense be in sync by the time the regular season rolls around? Is Jessie Bates going to get extended?
There are dozens of questions surrounding this team, which made it especially challenging to only name the three things I'll be monitoring the closest during training camp. It took time, but I was able to narrow it down to three main things.
Burrow Bounce Back?
Is Burrow better or worse after a devastating knee injury cost him the final six games of his rookie season and completely changed the way he prepared for the 2021 campaign?
He is fully cleared which is good news, but will he take part in 11-on-11s right away? Will he be limited in practice at all?
If he does practice daily, how does his arm look? There was plenty of talk about an increase in velocity during OTAs. Can he throw like that on a daily basis when defenders are on the field?
The Bengals' rebuild revolves around Burrow. If he's a star, then they'll be successful.
If the Bengals are going to succeed, then they need to be better in the trenches. Can Cincinnati's offensive line take a step forward with Frank Pollack leading the charge?
Second round pick Jackson Carman has a lot to prove in training camp. Can he win the starting right guard job?
The defensive line rotation is another interesting topic. How will Lou Anarumo deploy his new weapons? Trey Hendrickson, Larry Ogunjobi, DJ Reader, Joseph Ossai, Tyler Shelvin and Cam Sample are all newcomers. They're hoping to fix a unit that was decimated by injuries last season.
Anarumo needs to find a way to get the most out of a young, but talented group.
Remember when the Bengals drafted a kicker in the fifth round and cut him at the end of training camp?
It wasn't that long ago. Cincinnati selected Jake Elliott in the fifth-round of the 2017 NFL Draft. He lost the camp competition with Randy Bullock and has kicked for the Eagles ever since.
Will history repeat itself? The Bengals selected Evan McPherson in the fifth-round in April's draft. The Florida product is expected to be their kicker of the present and the future. Austin Seibert is still on the roster, but there's no way he'll beat out McPherson for the job, right? Right?
I'll be watching both kickers closely during camp. I'll also be paying close attention to the battle at punt returner.
Trent Taylor, Darius Phillips, Riley Lees and Pooka Williams all appear to be in the mix. The Bengals are hoping one of them can separate from the pack over the next few weeks.
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