Bengals players gather for May rookie minicamp.
Minicamps and OTAs have wrapped around the NFL, and now we sit in the six-week lull before training camps begin in earnest. That gives us ample time to process all the information we've gotten about the Cincinnati Bengals over the last few weeks.
This is a time of optimism for every team in the league, which means many of these glowing OTA and minicamp reports need to be taken with a grain of salt. But there are also kernels of truth wading about all that salt.
So what have we learned about the Bengals' 2012 plans from the past few weeks of minicamp and OTAs? Click through to find out.
Slot receiver Jordan Shipley is fighting to keep his job after tearing his ACL last year and having a lot of competition to beat out.
The Cincinnati Bengals lost two of their veteran starting receivers in free agency, Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell, but it doesn't seem like that's going to hurt them this season if the reports out of OTAs and minicamps are any indication.
Along with proven talent A.J. Green, the Bengals have Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, Jordan Shipley, Armon Binns, Brandon Tate and Ryan Whalen on their roster, all angling for significant playing time this year. And, if the reports are accurate, all of these receivers have been tearing it up.
Binns, who spent last season on the scout team, has received glowing praise for his OTA showing. Indeed, all of the receivers have looked good thus far, setting up quite the camp showdown for the six roster spots the Bengals are projected to reserve for receivers.
The Bengals clearly want to have a powerful passing game populated by a crew of youthful receivers, and it looks like they are well on their way to doing so successfully.
Dalton's comfort level has increased during his first real offseason program in the NFL.
With a year as the Bengals starting quarterback under his belt, Andy Dalton has finally come into his own as a real leader of his young offense.
Dalton's now taken to telling his receivers when they've made a mistake in practice rather than waiting for one of the coaches to do so. He's comfortable enough with the playcalling to identify his receivers errors, a good sign that the dreaded sophomore slump may spare Dalton this season.
On an offense where two seasons in the league counts for some serious veteran status, it's good to know that Dalton has the confidence and knowledge to take more control over what happens on the practice field.
Nate Clements might be the Bengals cornerback closest to securing a starting job.
It started all the way back in rookie minicamp with the arrival of Dre Kirkpatrick to his new team and will continue well into the preseason—who will be the Bengals' starters in the secondary?
Just as in the wide receiver battle, the Bengals have no shortage of talented players vying for all manner of starting and situational jobs in what is likely going to be a big-nickel-heavy defensive approach this year.
At cornerback, Leon Hall anticipates being ready for late-July training camp, the rookie Kirkpatrick has been shaky and Nate Clements, Brandon Ghee, Adam Jones, Jason Allen and Terence Newman will all be trying to capitalize on Hall's continued recover and Kirkpatrick's obvious greenness.
Clements wasn't on the field much in OTAs and minicamps as he dealt with a pulled muscle. At this point, however, he's the only front-runner to be a starter, leaving the other five to fight it out. Jones, Allen and Newman got most of the OTA reps, which helps their causes immensely.
At safety, the Bengals are still determining who will start alongside Reggie Nelson. Rookie George Iloka impressed early, and he'll be competing with Taylor Mays, Robert Sands and Jeromy Miles. Mays has gotten the most reps thus far, but the job is not yet his.
We all anticipated this would be a major battle, and it appears now that OTAs and minicamp have closed, it remains as such headed into training camp.
Dontay Moch has a lot less to smile about these days.
Bengals linebacker Dontay Moch was drafted last season as a developmental project who supposedly had tremendous upside. He injured his foot in last year's training camp, however, and didn't play a single down in 2011.
That lack of playing time has held him back, and in OTAs, he failed to impress defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
Add into that the four-game suspension he's facing for banned substances and the fact that the Bengals have themselves a cool dozen linebackers on the roster, and it's looking possible that Moch could find himself out in Cincy by the time the season starts.
Of all the Bengals on the bubble, Moch is in the most trouble. If his performance at OTAs and minicamp is any indication, he'll need to work incredibly hard at training camp to make a positive impression.