Please excuse us from our never-ending frustrations with the Bengals, while we bathe in the optimism that is so abundant this time of year. After all, ’tis the season of training camp. No one has lost a game yet. Few people are injured. These days, you look past all the flaws and foibles of the roster and think about what might happen if everything falls perfectly into place.
So before we start getting nagged by the Carson Palmer saga or injuries and losses pile up, let’s take a moment to soak in all that is well with our beloved Bengals. After all, when training camp ends, the football might be pulled back and Charlie Brown will whiff once more. So here’s what we can feel good about:
1) Andre Smith is in shape. The player who was once considered worthy of the No. 1 overall draft pick is finally fit enough to play. If Smith can blossom at right tackle this season, the Bengals offensive line should be pretty good.
2) Rey Maualuga is doing well in his transition to middle linebacker. The Bengals have not had a playmaker at the “Mike” spot since Odell Thurman flamed out. Maualuga could give the defense a pulse at one of its most important spots.
3) Andy Dalton and A.J. Green are performing well. Green has been making highlight plays throughout training camp and seems to be destined for a starting position. Furthermore, Dalton has kept his poise with the first team offense and seems to understand where everyone is supposed to be. His play has been uneven at times, but he doesn’t appear to be drowning in his transition to franchise quarterback.
4) Carlos Dunlap and Jerome Simpson seem poised for breakout seasons. Marvin Lewis gave both positive reviews in his press conference today, suggesting their success last season won’t be a fluke, but rather is the beginning of an upward trend.
5) The team already seems to be more disciplined than in year’s past. Even if they lose – which is somewhat likely considering the transition at key positions – they seem to be guys you can feel good about rooting for. There doesn’t seem to be any divas on the team, which is a relief after some of the drama from previous years. Give me a team of guys that play hard and relatively penalty-free and I’ll be ecstatic.
Dare I say it, but the future is somewhat bright for these Bengals. The only trouble is, the regular season will soon arrive, and Lucy could pull that football back at any moment.
Until then, gulp down as much optimism as you can.