The Cincinnati Bengals kicked off their mandatory minicamp today in which they will conduct five intense practices over the next three days. The defending AFC North champions have a number of questions to be answered heading into camp as they look for their first back-to-back winning seasons in 28 years.
How much has the passing game improved?
The Bengals entered the 2010 offseason looking to improve on a number of areas, but nothing may have been as important as figuring out a way to improve the passing game from last season.
Not only was Laveranues Coles—who was released in February —a bust, but Cincinnati lost a reliable deep threat when Chris Henry passed away last December when he sustained severe head injuries after falling from the back of a pickup truck. While the team hopes the additions of Antonio Bryant and Matt Jones will improve last year’s 26th ranked passing unit, the Bengals knew one of the top priorities entering the 2010 NFL Draft was to find more targets for Carson Palmer.
Along with first-round pick Jermaine Gresham , there seems to be high expectations for third-round pick Jordan Shipley —who will compete with Andre Caldwell for the No. 3 spot at wideout. All of a sudden, the Bengals appear to have a handful of weapons on offense and could contain one of the top passing units in 2010.
What type of shape will Chad Ochocinco be in?
For the first time this offseason, Chad Ochocinco will be working out with his fellow teammates, for he normally works out on his own unless it’s mandatory. However, the fact that he’s taken on a few extra offseason curricular activities have stirred up controversy on whether or not No. 85 is hurting the Bengals by not participating in the voluntary workouts.
After reaching the semifinals on Dancing With The Stars, Chad immediately started filming his next reality show—Ochocinco: The Ultimate Catch. While the Pro Bowl wideout seems to have managed his time and still find a way to prepare for the upcoming season, many still wonder if Ocho is spending too much time with reality television when he should be focusing on football. Even Palmer made comments about how he's hurting his teammates by not participating until now.
Then again, Ocho’s absence from voluntary workouts is nothing new for him and the Bengals. He’s been working out on his own for years, and if past seasons are any indication of what to expect, No. 85 should be just fine.
How do the low-risk acquisitions matchup against their competition?
Over the years, the Bengals have established a reputation for a team willing to bring in troubled players no matter what type of past they had. The gamble on Cedric Benson has paid off and they hope two other low risks will turn into high rewards this upcoming season.
Jones was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars following the 2008 season after violating a plea agreement from a drug charge. No teams were interested in signing him last season, but the Bengals hope the 6’6” Jones can be effective not only as a deep threat, but at the slot position as well.
Three months later, Cincinnati took another gamble on a different Jones—the cornerback formerly known as “Pacman.” Like Matt, the Bengals were able to sign Adam Jones at a cheap price with the hope he can be the player he was a few years ago. With Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall occupying the starting positions at cornerback, Jones is expected to compete with rookie Brandon Ghee for the No. 3 spot.
Dan Parzych is the Cincinnati Bengals Examiner for Examiner.com.
He is also the founder of WhoDeyBengals.com.
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