CINCINNATI -- The team-coordinated training portion of the Cincinnati Bengals' offseason will be over by the end of this week.
Thursday afternoon, players will take off for the next five weeks, vacationing and training on their own. But before they can do that, they must get through three more practices at Paul Brown Stadium.
Beginning Tuesday, the Bengals conduct a mandatory minicamp that is designed to have full-team participation. Though the organized team activities (OTAs) they held the past three weeks were voluntary and were meant more for rookies and newcomers, this minicamp is all about testing what the entire team has learned this offseason before it comes back late next month for training camp.
Here are some things to keep in mind this week:
How much have Tyler Boyd and Jake Kumerow grown? As you well know, the Bengals have spent the past three months searching for ways they can replace Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, two receivers who left during free agency. In addition to signing former Panthers and Patriots wideout Brandon LaFell, Cincinnati also drafted Boyd and Cody Core, and added Alonzo Russell as an undrafted college free agent. One of last year's undrafted free agents, Kumerow, has emerged this spring as a potential solution to the Jones/Sanu departures. This week, it will be important for him to continue demonstrating his lauded get-off ability at the line of scrimmage, and to continue being fluid as he gets in and out of routes. Often during OTAs, the 2015 practice squad receiver was the No. 2 receiver behind A.J. Green, regularly paired on drills with starting quarterback Andy Dalton. We'll want to see this week how much Boyd and Kumerow have grown over the past two months.
How healthy will the Bengals be by Thursday? Cincinnati has been blessed in the sense that it hasn't had any serious injuries during these spring practices, and it's important for that to continue this week. Yes, Tyler Eifert had surgery at the start of OTAs last month, but that had nothing to do with any injury he suffered during offseason training. It went back to the Pro Bowl. Linebacker Rey Maualuga has been one of the more curious absentees at the Bengals' open OTA sessions. He's been around the team all spring and hasn't appeared to be injured, so it will be interesting to see whether he will be on the practice fields this week. Offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi returned last week from a minor offseason injury. Health has not been much of an issue for the Bengals this spring, and the most important part of this week is that good health continues through Thursday afternoon.
What have all the newcomers learned? Not only will Boyd be under a microscope this week, but so will other draft picks, from first-rounder William Jackson III to fifth-rounder Christian Westerman to seventh-rounder Clayton Fededelem. Also, what have LaFell and fellow free-agent addition Karlos Dansby gleaned in their springtime study? That's of utmost concern regarding LaFell, whose role remains unclear. In Dansby's case, it's a concern only because he's making a similar transition from a 3-4 base defensive scheme to a 4-3 base defense, as James Harrison did four seasons ago. That transition didn't go so well for Harrison, who posted some of the worst numbers of his career in that year in Cincinnati. The Bengals hope Dansby will adapt much quicker.