Opener against Steelers Twist for Tyler Boyd; Bates Return Official
CONTRAST TRIM: By all accounts, Tomlin had a pretty physical training camp and he played pretty heavily against his starters in the last two preseason games, contrary to head coach Zac Taylor’s plan. Taylor padded the guys a lot in practice, but he didn’t play a starter in preseason.
Meanwhile, in Pittsburgh, former Bengals starting defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, who entered training camp to rehabilitate the foot he broke in the Bengals’ Jan. 15 Wild Card win, begins Sunday for the Steelers after playing a total of 46 snaps in the last two preseason games. In the preseason finale, the Steelers’ two best players, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (34) and edge TJ Watt (21) got a lot of shots and almost paid a high price when Watt went down. twisted the knee.
This is the flip side. The Bengals are in excellent health and, they say, ready to play without risking playing in a game.
“We prepared like it was a game. The only difference is we’ll have fans,” Boyd said. “None of us will be nervous or know what we’re going to do. I’m a veteran. I’ve been here for a number of years. I know what it takes to prepare for a game.”
Taylor simulates playing conditions in practice to such an extent that rookie left guard Cordell Volson noted after his NFL debut in the preseason opener that the game felt like practice.
“I feel like we had these game reps in the Rams’ combined practice,” Higgins said. “Our practices are on pace. It’s like a game. I feel like everything will be fine. Get into that rhythm early and go from there.”
If you take the scrimmages against the Rams, the Bengals regulars probably had more work to do than they had in the three preseason games last year. Taylor has no concerns about tackles and thinks his defense played well in Game 1 last year. They had to go to the last second in overtime to beat the Vikings, but Taylor didn’t forget the failed fourth-and-one deep in their own territory early in the second half.
“We work every way we can without necessarily taking people to the floor. I think our guys are professional. I think they really attacked these drills in the right way,” Taylor said. “They’re doing their circuit. Nothing can simulate real life hitting the guys they have. But these guys have played a lot of football, they know how to prepare for training camp to be ready for week 1 I’m convinced they’ll be able to do that.