6 Cincinnati Bengals Impressing in Training Camp
The Cincinnati Bengals are in the early stages of training camp, and there are already a variety of players impressing both the coaching staff and fans.
While some impressive players may seem obvious, there are players that most did not know what to expect from, so their early standout work is a great sign of things to come.
If a player on the roster bubble is impressing this early, it is a great sign for their chances of making the final roster. Conversely, it hurts the players that are off to a slow start in camp.
The biggest benefactor of these fantastic early starts by a select few is the team as a whole. When unexpected players step up, it forces all players to do the same or be left behind.
Here are six Bengals players impressing early in training camp.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis was brought in by the Bengals in free agency to take over the majority of the carries after the team elected to move on from the Cedric Benson era.
BJGE comes from the New England Patriots, so his attitude and experience with a winning culture clearly played a role in the team pursuing him as well.
So far, "The Law Firm" is impressing the most important person of all—head coach Marvin Lewis. The newly re-signed coach revealed this when speaking to the press recently (h/t Bengals.com):
“Yeah, it is way early, but everything Ben has done thus far since being with us has been really a positive thing. We are excited about it. His ability to cut and run is going to add a dynamic to our offense. Thus far, we are very pleased. With his leadership and his ability to just do his thing, I think he will drive our other backs to be better players.”
This is great news for the team because Green-Ellis is set to be the lead back in 2012. His leadership abilities are important, and it is great to see him making an impact so early on in his career with the Bengals.
Entire Offensive Line
We're going to cheat a bit here and count the entirety of the Bengals starting offensive line as one tally, but who's counting? The important thing to take away from training camp so far is that the unit looks great, at least according to Jason La Canfora on Twitter:
Hard to watch this Bengals OL and not be impressed. Powerful unit. Very stout all the way across. Big key to young skill guys' development.
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) July 31, 2012
This is great news for a unit that was inconsistent last year and is featuring two new starters in 2012. Travelle Wharton is taking over the starting job at left guard after joining the team in free agency. He is an upgrade on paper, but he needs training camp to effectively mesh with the other players on the line.
Rookie Kevin Zeitler is taking over the starting right guard spot, and will have to get acclimated to the NFL very quickly.
Andrew Whitworth, Kyle Cook and Andre Smith are all returning, which will likely mean Wharton and Zeitler will have no problems adjusting to the team.
Chalk up Andy Dalton as one of the predictable members of this list. If he were missing, that would be a bad sign of things to come for Cincinnati.
The big question swirling around Dalton's continued development at this point was his perceived lack of arm strength (an issue which he seemed to play just fine with last year in his rookie season), but early training camp sessions have put those concerns to bed, according to Geoff Hobson on Twitter:
Dalton has looked good today throwing TD bombs to Binns, MJones and Green. #btc53
— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) July 31, 2012
If Dalton is truly throwing the ball deep down the field without issues, then the Bengals offense could be even better in 2012. Other reports cite Dalton as being inconsistent, but that sounds like something he can work out as camp progresses.
A player that has been mentioned as one of the most improved from a season ago by Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer is wide receiver Armon Binns.
The coaching staff has been raving about him throughout the course of the offseason, and now we can all see why. Binns, standing at 6'3", has looked great on deep routes and has given defensive backs fits so far.
Binns currently sits at the deepest position on the team, so his continued outstanding performance will be critical in his ability to make the final roster.
It sounds as if Binns has it all physically; the question is whether the mental side of the NFL will be an issue.
Brandon Ghee is having quite the offseason so far. He was the talk of OTA's because of his performance, and now he is the big story at training camp as well.
It has been a long time coming for Ghee, who has struggled with injuries over the course of his career to date. At one point, the Bengals even cut Ghee, but it looks like things are turning around for the young corner:
“I think the day I got cut was the day that changed my life to be honest with you,” Ghee said. “I have learned how to compete [at the pro level]. Over the past two years, I was inconsistent. I would compete one day and not compete the next. I have to go hard every play. A lot of rookies, especially DBs, go through that maturity process, and now I’m doing well.”
The time is now or never for Ghee. His position is currently one of the deepest on the team, and for him to have made such a huge impact this early bodes well for his chances of making the final roster when camp concludes.
Vontaze Burfict has polarized the Bengals fan base to this point. Some love the addition of the undrafted linebacker with maturity issues, while others are not a fan of the move.
Burfict seems to be making his statement on the field, as he is turning heads in the early stages of training camp, according to Jason La Canfora on Twitter:
Vontaze Burfict, criticized a ton around draft, but he's flashing well in camp. More mobile at 238, making plays. Coaches like what they see.
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) July 31, 2012
If Burfict has truly improved his speed and cleared up the maturity issues that were so costly to his team in college, he has a great chance of making the final roster. He is currently in competition with Rodrick Muckelroy for the opportunity to back up starter Rey Maualuga, but at this pace, he could win the battle with ease.
Time will tell if Burfict has grown up. If he has, the Bengals will look like geniuses with player-personnel decisions yet again.