CINCINNATI — The Bengals start organized team activities [OTA's] on Tuesday. They will take place over the next three weeks: May 25-27, June 1-3 and June 7-10.
OTA’s are voluntary, but a handful of players including Jessie Bates III, DJ Reader, Sam Hubbard, Vonn Bell, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Burrow [in limited capacity] have committed to participating in the organized workouts.
Mandatory minicamp is scheduled for June 15-17. Every player on the roster is expected to attend the three-day session at Paul Brown Stadium.
The opportunity to build chemistry for a team with up to 10 new starters and a roster filled with players 26-years-old or younger is too valuable to pass up.
Only 15 players on the roster are 27 or older, which means there are plenty of breakout candidates. Here are three guys to keep at eye on with OTA's and minicamp on the horizon.
Higgins shined as a rookie, but should take a step forward in year two. He had 67 receptions for 908 yards and six touchdowns last season. The 6-4 receiver averaged 13.6 yards per reception and had 310 yards after the catch last season.
Those numbers should go up if Burrow plays all 17 games. The star quarterback is expected to be back for Week 1 after playing in 10 contests last season.
Drafting Ja’Marr Chase and upgrading the offensive line could help Higgins’ ability to get separation. He averaged 2.5 yards of separation in 2020.
The trio of Higgins, Chase, and Tyler Boyd should be as productive as any wide receiver trio in the NFL. Having multiple options on offense should also keep teams from double teaming Higgins.
The second-year receiver had an impressive rookie campaign, but he was just scratching the surface of his true potential.
Williams has been plagued by injuries throughout his career. He missed his entire rookie season in 2019 with a torn labrum and appeared in just 10 games last season due to a knee injury.
Despite only appearing in 10 games, the former first round pick showed potential and should take a step forward this season.
"Really, last year was his rookie year. It's always a learning curve for every rookie," Bengals offensive line coach Frank Pollack said earlier this month. "I'm real excited about teaching him some new things that he can add to his tool box. He's a smart player. He's very technique aware. He takes pride in being a technician. He's got great feet, great balance. He can use his hands independently. He's got a lot of tools to work with. His better day are ahead. Nothing but up for Jonah Williams."
Williams earned a 70.1 overall grade from Pro Football Focus last season. The third-year tackle allowed three sacks and was called for two holding penalties.
In a prove-it year with his fifth-year option looming, Williams will look to play more consistent and be an anchor on the offensive line. Another offseason of work combined with Pollack's wisdom could help the Alabama alum reach his full potential.
Wilson played in 12 games last season, making two starts. He tallied 33 tackles (23 solo), four tackles for loss, one sack, three passes defended, and two interceptions.
The linebacker’s season ended early due to a high ankle sprain and he also missed a game with a concussion. Despite dealing with injuries, Wilson will likely start for the Bengals this season.
With Josh Bynes no longer on the roster, the Bengals need Wilson to take a big step forward. He has the athleticism and instincts to succeed in the NFL. Don't be surprised if he has a breakout 2021 campaign.
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