The Cincinnati Bengals open training camp July 29 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Here's a closer look at the Bengals' camp, which wraps up Aug. 16:
Finding a complement: The No. 1 storyline entering camp revolves around finding pass-catching complements to Pro Bowl receiver A.J. Green, who is arguably one of the top players in the league at his position. But the free-agency departures of Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu left questions about who Cincinnati's best receiving options were behind Green. Brandon LaFell (formerly of the Patriots) and Tyler Boyd (2016 second-round pick) are the most likely candidates, but the Bengals are hoping to figure out in camp how they will use both this season. Then there are concerns about Green's other pass-catching partner, tight end Tyler Eifert, who is still recovering from May ankle surgery. He could miss time at the start of the season, so the Bengals will work out his temporary replacements over the next couple of weeks.
If the starting QB doesn't get hurt the Bengals might finally win a playoff game. Heck, maybe their starting quarterback makes a legitimate push for the league MVP award, too. Don't forget, Andy Dalton was one misguided tackle attempt away from possibly leading the Bengals to a first-round bye. Before breaking his right thumb on Steelers lineman Stephon Tuitt's knee, Dalton had led the Bengals to a 10-2 record and their first 8-0 start in franchise history. Even with a new offensive coordinator (his old quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese), Dalton has complete ownership of the Bengals' offensive scheme. His knowledge of this dynamic system can be enough to carry the Bengals this season.
Player who will have fans buzzing: Without a doubt, Jake Kumerow. Heck, fans are already interested in the undrafted receiver after spring media reports practically called him a pass-catching messiah. (Or maybe it's because of the beard and flowing locks.) Only once during open minicamp and organized team activities did he drop a pass, helping solidify his stature as a true possession receiver. Keep an eye on how well Kumerow gets off the line of scrimmage and effortlessly makes tough catches look easy.
Position battle worth watching: There aren't many starting jobs at stake in this camp, but you'll want to look for reports on the backup defensive end battle featuring Margus Hunt and Will Clarke. They're in for a true fight this summer, though more pressure could be on Hunt, who is entering a contract year. These next few weeks will be about one thing for this pair: proof. They must execute each time they get an opportunity because there won't be many. Also, keep an eye on the right offensive tackle battle between Eric Winston and Cedric Ogbuehi.
That rookie should start: Certainly the Bengals' first-round pick, William Jackson III, is good enough. But the way the Bengals' depth chart is set up, none of their rookies will have the opportunity to start (barring injuries). That said, look for Jackson, Boyd and perhaps third- and fourth-round picks Nick Vigil and Andrew Billings to consistently be part of rotations during the season. Boyd probably will get the most playing time of all the rookies, but Jackson could be a good change-of-pace at corner, and Vigil could be a quality coverage linebacker. Billings may see time on the D-line in run-stopping situations.
Veteran whose job is in jeopardy: It's hard to say whether there's a well-known vet whose job is truly on the line. There's concern about whether Brandon Tate's punt return ability will be enough for him to stick, but with a relatively young receivers' room, it's unlikely he will be let go this fall. Coaches like having his veteran presence. Perhaps Taylor Mays, a safety signed back in free agency this year, could see his job in jeopardy, but even that's a little bit of a reach.
Division of labor: Cincinnati probably won't tip its hand in camp on the planned workload distribution for running backs Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, but keep an eye on those two. Hill spent last season as the Bengals' starting back, despite his struggles. A year after averaging 5.1 yards per carry, he posted an average of just 3.6 yards per catch in 2015. Even though Hill started nearly every game, Bernard was still used regularly. In fact, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information, Bernard (552) outpaced Hill (434) on snaps.
Bolstering Burfict's backups: Another important mission for the Bengals in camp will be preparing for Vontaze Burfict's three-game suspension. Rest assured, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther already has a plan in place for the stretch when he will be without his top playmaking defender, but this camp will help reaffirm some of what has already been put on paper. Vincent Rey and Karlos Dansby should factor heavily in spelling Burfict during his absence, and so could Rey Maualuga ... assuming he comes back to camp in shape.
What fans will be saying after camp: Fans who get a chance to see one of the open practice sessions will be abuzz about Kumerow. They'll finally get a chance to see why he could have a role in Cincinnati's receiving rotation this season. Fans also will come away impressed with the strides Dalton and Green have made as a passing duo. The pair was more in sync this spring than they have been during any offseason workout of their career, and they'll likely carry that into a summer where contract uncertainty is no longer lingering over their heads. Fans also ought to come away impressed with the Bengals' rookies, most notably Jackson and Boyd. Be prepared for the times when they go head-to-head in man coverage.
For daily updates at camp, check out the Cincinnati Bengals clubhouse page.