A Familiar Face Makes His Bid To Stick Around

The intensity and the execution at Cincinnati Bengals camp on Friday were not on the same level as we saw Thursday during the spirited red-zone Lockout drill. The results were different as well, with the defense rebounding to win the day, even though no one was keeping score.

But at least one guy on offense was making plays all over the place.

Bengals Practice Report: Trent Taylor’s Big Day

With Tyler Boyd sitting out most of the practice, wide receiver Trent Taylor took first-team reps in the slot and caught four of Trevor Siemian’s first five passes. Taylor also was the target on Siemian’s throw down the sideline that fell incomplete despite a diving attempt.

“I didn’t know it was gonna go like that today, but it ended up with TB not practicing; you’ve got to be ready to go,” Taylor said.

If anyone needed a day to remind the coaches he still can make plays whenever called upon, it would be Taylor. Already on the bubble for the 53-man roster, Taylor watched the Bengals draft a pair of wide receivers, one of whom — Charlie Jones — is a near-physical clone and has the ability to unseat Taylor at what he does best: returning punts.

Taylor had all 33 of the Bengals’ punt returns last season, averaging 10.3 yards per return, which ranked seventh in the league and fourth in the AFC. Taylor only played 13.4% of the offensive snaps last year, catching six passes for 62 yards.

The Bengals drafted Jones to give them more in the passing game and to add some sizzle in a return game that was steady but not explosive. Or, as special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons said, “didn’t put the fear of God in the other team’s punter.”

Even with Jones suffering a left shoulder injury in Thursday’s practice, Taylor knows he isn’t going to have a lot of opportunities to prove he deserves to stay with the team another year, so Friday’s workload was a welcome opportunity.

“It’s always hard dealing with that,” Taylor said of the numbers game. “You see people get lost in the business side of it all. They get emotional about stuff like that. But the best thing you can do is just not think about it.”

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said Jones was day to day with the shoulder, and with the first preseason game a week away, it could be Trent Taylor and Kwamie Lassiter handling the punt returns against the Packers. Or, it could be all Lassiter if the Bengals feel they already know what they have in Taylor.

“I feel like I proved myself last year in the preseason, and that helped me a lot going into the year. If that’s what they want me to do — if they want me to prove myself all over again — I’ll be ready to do that. If they want to hold me back, I’ll be ready for whatever,” Taylor said.

Jonah Williams Waiting Out the Process

Some players who entered the league as a first-round draft pick and have 47 starts under their belt, including a Super Bowl, might balk at the idea of alternating first- and second-team reps in training camp. But Jonah Williams, who was back with the twos Friday, has no such issue.

“I’m just doing my job, and I’ll do my job with whoever is next to me,” he said. “I’m in a good mood. I’m healthy, I’m playing football, I feel good out there. I don’t have anything to complain about. Life is good.”

Five months ago, Williams requested a trade after the Bengals signed Orlando Brown Jr. in free agency, immediately instilling the Super Bowl champion as their starting left tackle, displacing Williams.

Jonah Williams (73) speaks to Cincinnati Bengals guard Max Scharping (74) during the Cincinnati Bengals fan day practice at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati on Saturday, July 29, 2023.

After sitting out the voluntary portion of the offseason, Williams showed up for the mandatory minicamp and said all the right things about accepting the position change and working to be the best right tackle and teammate he can be.

He’s been splitting first-team reps with Jackson Carman, a 2021 second-round pick, and Taylor said he didn’t have a timeline for naming a starter.

“We’ll just continue to take it day to day at this point,” he said. “If we need to make a decision — at some point, we will — but right now, it’s split.”

Injury Updates

Defensive end Trey Hendrickson, who had been dealing with a “lower body issue,” according to Taylor, returned to team drills for the first time since the first practice of camp.

Jones, the rookie fourth-round pick who left on a cart with a left shoulder injury Thursday, is day to day. While Taylor classified running back Trayveon Williams, who is dealing with a sprained ankle, as week to week.

As for quarterback Joe Burrow and his strained calf, Taylor said the timeline is still several weeks. “Several weeks from when I said it the last time,” he clarified.

Odds and Ends

  • Evan McPherson was 6 for 6 on field goal attempts to end practice.
  • Mike Hilton got credit for a sack on a slot blitz, but he also jumped offsides trying to time the snap count on another one.
  • B.J. Hill, first-round rookie Myles Murphy, and undrafted free agent Owen Carney also had “sacks.”
  • Backup slot cornerback Jalen Davis had a strong day, getting his hands on a number of balls. One was a near interception when he jumped a slant, and he also raked a completion out of the grasp of rookie receiver Andrei Iosivas.
  • Newly signed quarterback Reid Sinnett struggled in limited reps, missing badly on his first three throws before hitting Iosivas on an intermediate ball down the sideline against Allan George.
  • The Bengals will have Saturday off before returning to practice Sunday and Monday. Following another off day Tuesday, they hold a joint practice with the Packers on Wednesday before opening the preseason against them Friday night.

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