Bengals training camp: Friday recap

The third padded practice of the Cincinnati Bengals training camp is in the books, as is this week of practice in general. We’re now one week away from the first preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals, and Cincinnati is going through the motions.

For Joe Burrow, the only motion involved with him is the golf cart he’s driving around practice. It’s been over a week since Burrow’s appendectomy and he’s still listed as day-to-day.

Burrow being present for practice or not doesn’t seem to have any bearing on if he’s close to returning, but there’s been no reports disputing the original timeline of a two-week recovery period for the starting quarterback. Considering there’s only a handful of practices left until the first preseason game, it’s a virtual lock that Burrow will not be suiting up for that matchup.

The absence of Burrow under center has led to many positive plays for the Bengals’ defense, but Ja’Marr Chase is doing just fine. He was the recipient of Brandon Allen’s best pass of camp, even though linebacker Germaine Pratt would have sacked him if the rep was in a real-game situation.

Now that the team is in full pads doing 11-on-11 work, we can start putting together how the depth chart looks. With this closeup angle, we can gauge that Cam Sample is a part of the first-team nickel defensive line package.

Allen has had his moments filling in for Burrow, but the Bengals’ secondary has usually secured a turnover a day against the backup quarterback. Today, it was Vonn Bell whose hands secured one of Allen’s passes.

The back seven has been a consistent winner through eight practices this far, but Cam Taylor-Britt has seen his share of ups and downs. Yesterday, it was college free agent Allan George, not Taylor-Britt, who took reps with the 1s in place of an injured Eli Apple. Today, Tre Flowers got the first crack at Apple’s place.

Taylor-Britt eventually got his reps against the starters, and all reports indicate it was one of his best days at camp.

Taylor-Britt carries an inordinate weight on his shoulders for a rookie second-round pick, at least from the outside looking in. The Bengals rarely trade up in the NFL Draft, specifically within the first three rounds. They did so for Taylor-Britt, and with Apple being his main competitor for playing time, there is a chance he can become a starter before too long.

But the 22-year-old cornerback still has to elevate himself above Apple, who has the trust of the coaches and has been practicing well before suffering his injury. Taylor-Britt remains a rookie trying to find his footing, like 99% of players in his position.

On the subject of rookies, former Wisconsin receiver Kendric Pryor faced Big 10 rival Nebraska and Taylor-Britt a few times during his time with the Badgers, and the undrafted free agent signee has had an impressive week working with the second-team offense.

Because he isn’t a main player in the punt-returner battle, Pryor has flown under the radar a bit as a receiver looking to make the opening day roster. But for a team that lacks dynamic athletes outside of their starting three, there’s a real chance Pryor can take this momentum into the preseason and make a strong case for a spot on the initial 53.

D’Ante Smith was figured to be a lock for the roster, but now an injury might stand in the way of that. Smith hurt his right leg during the start of practice and was eventually carted back to the locker room after he attempted to put pressure on his injured leg.

We don’t know the extent of Smith’s injury, but serious or not, it’s the latest setback the second-year offensive lineman has to deal with. The fourth-round pick from the 2021 draft spent the majority of his rookie season battling lower body injuries.

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