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Cincinnati Bengals 2022 Training Camp Preview

Bengals Offseason Needs

Bengals Training Camp Preview
Cincinnati Bengals 2022 Training Camp Preview (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Cincinnati Bengals 2022 Training Camp Preview

The Bengals finally broke out of their years-long slump in 2021. After not making it to the playoffs since 2015, and not winning a playoff game since 1990, Joe Burrow led them all the way to the Super Bowl. There, they were undone by their offensive line and defensive backs. The O-line gave up seven sacks in the championship. Cooper Kupp and Odell Beckham Jr. made the secondary look silly. So, Cincinnati prioritized improving those positions through free agency and the draft. The team looks dangerous. Let’s look at some players and position battles to watch in this Bengals 2022 Training Camp Preview.

3 Position Battles To Watch

Cornerback: Eli Apple, Dax Hill, Cam Taylor-Britt

The Bengals’ secondary had a strong 2021 led by Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton. Still, the team spent its first two draft picks on reinforcements in that area. Clearly, they don’t have complete faith in Eli Apple as their CB2. Apple never lived up to the hype after being selected 10th overall in 2016. He also has a pretty bad reputation around the league, although that did not seem to impact the Bengals’ chemistry last season. Hill was a highly rated prospect coming out of Michigan, and Cincinnati might have gotten a steal with his selection. He was listed as a safety coming out of college, but he’s a versatile player who could play corner as well. Taylor-Britt is a natural cornerback who the team loves. He’ll get a chance to prove himself.

Left Guard: Jackson Carman, Cordell Volson

Joe Burrow got sacked a league-high 51 times in 2021. As a result, the Bengals made improving the offensive line a priority this offseason, which we’ve been talking about since 2021. They brought in La’el Collins, Ted Karras, and Alex Cappa to help protect their franchise quarterback. However, they currently have Carman, who has only started six games in the NFL, slotted into the left guard spot. There are rumors that Volson is already pushing Carman for the starting spot, and could even overtake him before the start of the season. Not only is Carman inexperienced, but he also has some baggage attached to his name. He didn’t fare particularly well in the few starts he had last season, and it seems like the Bengals really like Volson’s energy and work ethic. Perhaps the 2022 fourth-rounder from North Dakota State gets his shot sooner than most expect.

Punter: Kevin Huber, Drue Chrisman

The reigning AFC champions have a pretty solidified roster heading into this season, so we’ll go with a position more on the periphery here. Kevin Huber is going into his 14th season in Cincinnati, not counting his three years at the University of Cincinnati, and he has some competition. Drue Chrisman has been with the Bengals since 2021, so they must like something about him. Huber is set to make about $1 million more than Chrisman this season. That probably helps Chrisman in this competition. Huber has averaged around 45 yards per punt for his career, while Chrisman sat at 44 YPP at Ohio State. Supposedly, it might come down to how well Chrisman performs as a holder, which is an underemphasized part of the game.

Ready To Breakout: Chris Evans

No, the Bengals didn’t sign Captain America. The lesser-known Chris Evans was drafted in the sixth round out of Michigan in 2021. He has a chance to breakout if Zac Taylor gets fed up with Joe Mixon’s 4.1 yards per carry. Evans is a solid receiving back whose presence could help Joe Burrow get the ball out of his hands more quickly. He only ran the ball 17 times for 77 yards in 2021, but he averaged over 10 yards per catch. I’m also not a fan of the two backs ahead of him on the depth chart. Joe Mixon is a criminal and Samaje Perine has been waived more times than Connor Williams was penalized in 2021 (a lot).

Rookie To Watch: Cam Taylor-Britt

He might not win the starting job in training camp, but he will overtake Eli Apple at some point. He already has experience lining up against NFL-caliber wide receivers in the Big Ten. Cincinnati liked Britt enough to give up a sixth-rounder to move up in the draft for him. Eli Crab-Apple’s days are numbered.

Fantasy Sleeper: Hayden Hurst

Hurst isn’t even listed on ESPN’s Fantasy TE PPR Rankings. He will be competing against Cincinnati’s vaunted receiving corps for targets. He also had a pretty bad year with the Falcons in 2021. Hurst totaled 26 receptions for 221 yards and three touchdowns. However, I have to think he’ll be more valuable than at least some guys on that list. His down 2021 might be attributed to the Falcons wanting to give Kyle Pitts all possible chances to develop. The litany of options the Bengals possess could wind up working in his favor. Hurst should be a low priority on the defensive schemes, which could allow him to thrive. He’s never quite lived up to his potential as a first round pick, but he can work to change the narrative with a solid 2022.



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