CINCINNATI -- Two Cincinnati Bengals minicamp practices are in the books with a third set to begin about two hours after this post goes live.
Once that practice ends, the Bengals will be done with the mandatory minicamp portion of their offseason, and will slide back into voluntary organized team activities for three more days before breaking for the summer. After next week, the Bengals won't be en masse at Paul Brown Stadium until July 24, when training camp begins.
For now, though, let's catch you up on Wednesday's practice with the following observations:
Again, it must be stressed that it's only June and players aren't even wearing pads. So there isn't much to be gleaned from these practices. Still, it's worth noting that the drills the Bengals are going through right now will at least set the foundation for things they will want to hone when training camp opens.
It was all about the two-minute drill Wednesday afternoon as Cincinnati's offense and defense worked on end-of-game scenarios during a pair of 11-on-11 drills. Quarterbacks Andy Dalton and Jason Campbell each had to lead their respective first- and second-team units downfield in a hurry-up scenario. Coaches tried to simulate as much of the drama of a two-minute drill as they could. Coordinators Paul Guenther and Hue Jackson radioed calls to their middle linebackers and quarterbacks. Timeouts were acknowledged. Pacing was quickened.
After moving his offense into scoring territory with 20 seconds left, Dalton, on a third-and-short, looked down the right sideline toward receiver Marvin Jones who had beaten his defender. Dalton's throw was just out of reach, stalling the drive. Had that pass been caught, it would have been an easy touchdown. Perhaps in a game, Jones would have been a step faster to settle under it. Perhaps not.
A pair of other two-minute rallies ended later in the day when rookie cornerback Lavelle Westbrooks picked off a pass from Campbell that floated near midfield, and when backup linebacker Sean Porter tipped another Campbell pass before intercepting it deep in his own red zone.
Like he has throughout the organized team activities and minicamp practices, rookie Russell Bodine once again took first-team reps at center with Mike Pollak out nursing a knee injury. Bodine spoke Wednesday about the increased pace the Bengals are incorporating this year offensively, and said it didn't trouble him much. His college offense at North Carolina tried to get plays off 12 seconds into the play clock. That is a quick tempo.
Defensive end Carlos Dunlap spent much of Tuesday's practice playing right end. On Wednesday he was back to more of a rotation between right and left end. Expect those rotations to continue into training camp and through the season as the Bengals try to confuse opposing offensive lines. Dunlap won't be the only one roving around the line, either, Guenther said Wednesday. Ends Margus Hunt and Wallace Gilberry also will do their share of switching.
Offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth was a scratch on Wednesday. He didn't participate in drills but was a coach of sorts, giving advice to some of the younger linemen and working with them on technique. We are not sure why Whitworth was a scratch, but it didn't appear to be anything too serious.
With Whitworth out, backup Marshall Newhouse got repetitions at left tackle. Next to him at left guard, Tanner Hawkinson continues to fill the void left by Clint Boling, who is rehabbing from an ACL injury. When Hawkinson isn't playing that position T.J. Johnson has been.
As the Bengals try to pick up their tempo, rhythm becomes very important. The only way rhythm can be established between the quarterbacks and receivers is for both groups to go through these early June practices at full speed. That was the point Jackson stressed early in the practice to A.J. Green, who wasn't getting into and coming out of breaks as quickly as he needs to. "Everything you do, A.J., has to be at full speed," Jackson said.
We mentioned it in the Day 1 observation notes, and it's worth mentioning again: seventh-round pick James Wright is one rookie to have on your radar. He has impressed at times during the minicamp, and really got a little attention at one point in Wednesday's workout when he caught a bomb in the middle of the field from Dalton. After beating his defender deep, he worked his way over from the right side of the field and caught in stride a perfectly placed pass. The defender went for the ball and failed in his attempt. Wright easily glided in for a touchdown.