My apologies for an extended absence prompted by the obligations of adult life and the slower cycle of Bengals news. But it’s time to break back into the black and orange – and I plan to do so in rapid-fire fashion. Here are a few things I’ve been thinking about our beloved Bengals:
-When’s the last time the roster was this loaded? The 1990s? You could argue that the early Carson Palmer teams had a similar assemblage of talent, but the defense really wasn’t as stocked. This team is balanced on both sides of the ball and that should give the Bengals a better chance to repeat their success.
-With that said, it’s wise to keep the schedule in mind. I think a return trip to the playoffs is entirely possible, but it’s no sure thing. Cincinnati has crossover games with the uber-talented NFC East (Cowboys, ‘Skins, Eagles, Giants) and the AFC West, which should be improved with the addition of Peyton Manning and a full season of Carson Palmer.
-I’m stoked about the Bengals draft, where they added value at almost every pick, taking better players at times even though they already had depth at the position. In the end, it will make the team stronger.
-Receiver may be the most hotly-contested position in training camp. There is no established No. 2 receiver, but there are a lot of intriguing and talented candidates. Furthermore, there are good options in the slot as well, where Andrew Hawkins is explosive, Jordan Shipley is savvy, and Mohamed Sanu is both big and smooth. If it were me, I’d put Shipley on the PUP list to start the season, giving the team an extra roster spot and giving Shipley some extra time to recover. And whoever ends up on the outside of the roster battle is still likely to land somewhere else, considering the depth the Bengals have assembled.
-Perhaps the weakest area of the Bengals roster is linebacker, where Brandon Johnson recently left for a spot on the Steelers. Let’s hope the team can remain healthy there and perhaps find a gem or two amongst the college free agent crop.
All in all, it’s been a tremendous offseason for the Bengals. Soon, the real fun will begin.