Greetings on a rainy morning here in Cincinnati.
After taking a few final days of vacation last week, yours truly is back and ready for what promises to be an exciting season ahead. Training camp is now 10 days away in this part of Ohio, meaning the sounds crunching pads and crashing helmets are right around the corner.
While the Cincinnati Reds have sure provided some drama for sports fans in this area during the first half of the Major League Baseball season, the Cincinnati Bengals hope they are months away from one-upping whatever magical season their Riverfront brethren seem on the verge of having. Based on how the Reds' season has so far gone, one-upping them would mean winning one or more playoff games.
But what else is new? That's been the same narrative for Bengals fans each July since 1991: Get past the first round this year. As you well know, the Bengals haven't done that, losing every playoff game they've appeared in since the 1990 season. They at least won one game that year. Maybe this will finally be the year the curse gets lifted.
Since training camp is now so close by, we'll be revisiting our daily Bengal Quick Takes; a set of brief early-morning thoughts on the news of the day surrounding the team. There still won't be too much news this week so for now the Quick Takes may be rather thin. By the end of next week, though, they ought to be really meaty as the action kicks off across the street from Paul Brown Stadium.
Let's get you caught up on a few things as the team prepares for camp next week:
Dalton hosts receivers. You may have noticed on social media early last week a number of tweets and Instagram posts from quarterback Andy Dalton and a few Bengals receivers. They were posting pictures of their pre-camp workouts near Dalton's offseason home in Fort Worth, Texas. For a couple of days Dalton hosted the likes of A.J. Green (named last week the No. 9 player in the league by a survey of players that was publicized by NFL Network), Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon Tate and Cobi Hamilton as he bolstered his relationship with his pass-catchers. It was about building a little more chemistry and maintaining the on- and off-field camaraderie that is necessary for quarterbacks and receivers to be in a good rhythm. Dalton mentioned to me back in May that he was going to host teammates for a low-speed passing practice again, much like he did last summer. You might remember seeing a few images from the workout on last year's HBO "Hard Knocks." Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson spoke with a couple of receivers last week after the practice in Texas. And, no, still no new deal for the quarterback.
Green a top-10 player. As we mentioned above, Green was one of three Bengals selected by players around the league to NFL Network and NFL.com's "top 100" list. The list was comprised solely of current players who were ranked, regardless of position, as the best 100 in the sport. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins came in at No. 48. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict was 52nd. As a three-time Pro Bowl selection, it stands to reason that Green was ranked among the top 10, but his goal after this season is to be regarded among the even higher elite. A strong individual performance this season, buoyed by that aforementioned postseason win (or more), could help his case. At Green's position, only Lions receiver Calvin Johnson ranked above him on the top 100, coming in at No. 2 overall, just behind Denver quarterback Peyton Manning.
Super Bowl XXIII's top plays. One of our projects at ESPN.com this summer has concerned charting the most memorable all-time plays for all 32 teams. The play that was selected (by your votes) for each franchise will go into a 32-play bracket that will get decided all this week by you, our loyal and valued readers. That means the 10-yard touchdown pass 49ers receiver John Taylor caught from Joe Montana in the final minute of Super Bowl XXIII will be pitted against others selected by fans of other teams. It could be argued that Taylor's catch was as much a 49ers memorable play as it was a Bengals play, so perhaps it'll get enough votes from both fan bases to advance. A case could be made that the play officially closed for a generation the Bengals' Super Bowl-winning window. They haven't been on a stage that large since, and two years later began the stretch of postseason losses that defines their playoff experience of late.