CINCINNATI -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of Cincinnati Bengals training camp:
Was there some news in Cincinnati on Monday? Oh yeah, there was. Andy Dalton's reported six-year, $115 million contract extension was the story of the day at Paul Brown Stadium. Dalton spoke about it, his teammates spoke about it, the team's president and other front-office personalities spoke about it. The signing was such an important part of the Bengals' day that at the end of practice, while the team huddled near the north end of a practice field, Dalton's teammates applauded him. For about an hour after the team celebration, Dalton visited with his wife, mom, son and mother-in-law as he had his first quiet moments of the busy day.
So we know there was some news Monday in Cincinnati, but was there a practice? Oh yeah, there was. The Bengals' 10th workout of training camp took a bit of a backseat to Dalton's deal but it still had its noteworthy moments. In full disclosure, I didn't get a chance to watch every minute of the practice like I normally might because of other pressing obligations concerning Dalton. Still, here's a bit of what I gathered. Mainly, I gathered that the Bengals are juggling game preparation with talent evaluation. They aren't installing as extensive a game plan as you might see when they hit the field in the regular season. More than anything, they want to use Thursday's preseason game against the Chiefs as another layer of evaluation. It's more gameplanning for situations they want to see their players fight through, instead of gameplanning for an actual opponent.
Seventh-round draft pick James Wright continues to shine throughout camp and remains one of my picks to slide late onto the 53-man roster. In case you missed my third roster projection of camp Monday morning, I kept the former LSU standout as the sixth and final player at his position. Wright's special teams versatility makes him an ideal fit, and his playmaking ability makes him worth holding onto, as well. Late in Monday's practice, he caught a pass across the middle that got some cheers from coaches and spectators. As he ran into the middle of the field, Wright caught a pass in stride from quarterback Jason Campbell just before the defender closed.
Another player who has started catching my eye in camp is veteran cornerback Leon Hall. Saturday's scrimmage marked the first time he's really had a chance to play without abandon since he started his comeback from Achilles surgery. While the Bengals had some coverage issues in the scrimmage, he held his own with the second-team receivers he was mostly going up against. During a 7-on-7 drill Monday, he looked very much like the same shutdown cornerback Bengals fans have long known. As Mohamed Sanu ran across the middle of the field on one play, Hall was all over him, swatting away a pass Sanu had to reach back slightly to handle.
Much like Hall, a trio of other Bengals are recovering from injuries as well: receiver Marvin Jones, offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth and tight end Jermaine Gresham. Each came off the active physically unable to perform and non-football injury lists and practiced for the first time of camp Monday. Gresham was the only one of the group who went live in 11-on-11 action. He primarily was limited to second- and third-team play, but he practiced against the defense at a high pace nonetheless. Jones and Whitworth primarily took part in position-specific drills.