CINCINNATI — The Bengals held their first scrimmage of training camp on Friday.
A.J. Green wasn't out there. Neither was Tee Higgins or John Ross. Despite not having his top weapons, quarterback Joe Burrow went 6-for-6 in his first series, which was capped off with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Auden Tate in the back of the end zone.
"He makes it look easy," one media member said of the rookie.
Joe Mixon and Tyler Boyd only played in one series, but that didn't slow down the first-team offense.
Burrow completed his first eight passes of the day. He led the first-team offense down the field again for another score on his second drive. He threw the same fade to Tate again, this time on the near side, for another touchdown.
"I thought he [Burrow] was in good control of the offense today," head coach Zac Taylor said on a conference call afterwards. "He did a nice job communicating and had some nice drives for us."
Burrow's first incompletion was arguably his worst throw of the day. He rolled to his right and found C.J. Uzomah wide open in the back of the end zone, but the throw was high. He threw his second touchdown pass to Tate on the very next play.
Burrow started the day by completing nine of his first 10 pass attempts. He was impressive, despite not having most of his top weapons.
The first-team offensive line had four false starts, including three on the first drive. It's early, but that's something worth monitoring.
"Guys just have to get dialed in," Taylor said. First time we’re really full go. There’s more at stake than there has been. It’s really meant to replace a preseason game for us and this stuff usually happens in the first preseason game. We have to be on top of it."
Mixon only played one series, but Jacques Patrick and Semaje Perine had big runs. Patrick had a 41-yard scamper and a 14-yard touchdown. Perine marched in for a score on a play that included a Jonah Williams pancake block on cornerback Greg Mabin.
"It was a good starting point for our first scrimmage," Taylor said of the run game. "We get plenty of work in the passing game. Just the way that we operate over the last couple weeks. So, when you finally put the pads on you want to see guys run the ball. That was a big point of emphasis for us on both sides. I’m excited to look this tape over and really analyze a lot of different positions."
Carl Lawson and Williams certainly went at it when the first-team was on the field. It's exactly what both guys need to get ready for the season. They brought a game-like intensity to the scrimmage.
"Those are two really good competitors that want to win the down, and there's been some really good battles over the course of practice and 1 on 1s," Taylor said. "Carl's certainly a guy who's having a good camp right now. He's really testing those tackles."
The second-year coach also praised Williams, who didn't have a false start like some of his teammates.
"He's certainly been a great asset for us so far in this training camp," Taylor said. "Those are the expectations we had for him. He's getting a lot of good work in against some really good rushers and guys who are good run defenders. It's a good test for him every day. He's responded to the challenges and I'm really encouraged by him."
The coaching staff has a unique scoring system for scrimmages. The offense and the defense were playing to 18.
"The offense won the scoring system," Taylor said. "If the defense gets the stop and we make the field goal, the offense gets three and the defense gets four. Had they gotten a turnover or missed a field goal, the defense would have gotten seven, the offense would have gotten zero. And then obviously, when the offense scores a touchdown, they get seven and the defense gets zero. So it ends up as a five-drive maximum that gets you to 18 points one way or another and the offense came out on top today."
Taylor wasn't asked about William Jackson III during his conference call with the media, but he went out of his way to praise the fifth-year cornerback.
"I thought Will Jackson offhand just made some good plays on the ball," Taylor said. "I was excited to see that from him. He's taken some steps in the right direction. It was something I noted as I was calling plays on offense and watching the defense I thought he was worth singling out today."
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