The Cincinnati Bengals used to be a punchline. Every Sunday during the NFL season in the 1990s, ESPN's Chris Berman would affectionately call them the "Bungles," aptly describing a team which had no hope of getting out of its own way.
Luckily for the Queen City, those days are gone. Despite some rancor during down seasons, owner Mike Brown stuck with head coach Marvin Lewis, who now has the Bengals looking for a third consecutive trip to the postseason. Should Cincinnati do so, it would mark the first time in franchise history.
As is the norm with the Bengals, there wasn't a ton of movement in the free agent market. Many expected Cincinnati to upgrade at the wide receiver and corner positions, but the Bengals decided to do neither. Instead, they brought in veteran outside linebacker James Harrison, who was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Harrison will bring an added dimension to the pass-rush if he can stay healthy. In the last two seasons, Harrison has only played 13 and 11 games respectively while racking up 15 sacks. The production is still there, but is the body willing to cooperate?
In the draft, Cincinnati went out and added Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert, thought almost universally to be the top player at his position. Eifert will team with Jermaine Gresham to form a potentially formidable tandem. Other rookies of note include running back Giovani Bernard, safety Shawn Williams of Georgia and defensive end Margus Hunt of SMU.
Training camp location and schedule
Similar to many teams around the league in recent years, the Bengals have decided to stay home and will have their training camp at Paul Brown Stadium for the second straight year. However, things will be a bit different this year around Cincinnati thanks to a few HBO cameras.
"Hard Knocks" will be back in town, filming the Bengals for the second time in the program's history. The Bengals were also featured back in 2009.
All practices will be free of charge and open to the public, according to the Bengals' official web site.
|July 25||7 p.m./Practice, Pep Rally|
|July 26||3 p.m./Practice|
|July 27||3 p.m./Practice|
|July 28||3 p.m./Practice|
|July 29||3 p.m./Practice|
|July 30||No practice|
|July 31||3 p.m./Practice|
|Aug. 1||5 p.m./Practice, Family Night|
|Aug. 2||3 p.m./Practice|
|Aug. 3||No practice|
|Aug. 4||2 p.m./Practice|
|Aug. 5||No practice|
|Aug. 6||No practice|
|Aug. 7||Team travel|
|Aug. 8||8 p.m./Preseason game vs. Atlanta Falcons|
|Aug. 9||No practice|
|Aug. 10||3 p.m./Practice|
|Aug. 11||5 p.m./Practice, Family Night|
|Aug. 12||3 p.m./Practice|
|Aug. 13||No practice|
|Aug. 14||3 p.m./Practice|
|Aug. 15||11 a.m./Practice|
Corner: In 2012, the Bengals took cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick out of Alabama, hoping for him to become the next Johnathan Joseph. Instead, Kirkpatrick has four tackles and zero interceptions to this point in his career.
Ahead of him on the depth chart are veterans Adam "Don't call me PacMan" Jones and Terence Newman. Both will be difficult to unseat in training camp, but it could happen if one of the older guys has lost a step throughout the offseason. Even with that said, can Kirkpatrick get himself on the field consistently in sub-packages?
Running back: BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a productive season for the Bengals in 2012, rushing for 1,094 yards and scoring six touchdowns on the ground. However, Bernard was brought in with a high second-round selection, making it very easy to wonder who exactly will be getting a majority of the touches.
This year's running back class isn't thought of as terrific, but can Bernard be one of those sleepers who comes out of the gates stealing the show a la Alfred Morris? This is certainly a position group to watch as camp unfolds in the summer heat.
Center: Who will emerge as the starting center for Week 1? The Bengals used three different starters at the position last year, sending in Kyle Cook, Trevor Robinson and Jeff Faine. With Faine out of the mix, which of the other two will nail down a starting gig?
With three tough defensive lines in the AFC North, this is critical for Cincinnati. The Bengals also drafted T.J. Johnson in the seventh round, but it would be an upset if nabbed the job in camp.