As they prepared for their first break since being drafted in late April, Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert and running back Giovani Bernard, the team’s top two picks, both said they were happy with what they were able show on the field and in meetings during minicamps and OTAs.
“I think it went well, for me and collectively as a group,” Eifert said. “Everyone got better, and I definitely learned a lot, that’s for sure. I worked a lot on footwork and blocking, and I definitely got better.”
Added Bernard: “It’s been a learning experience, just kind of getting to know the playbook. I have a pretty good grasp of it now. Once we get back here six weeks from now I’ll be ready to go and can hit the ground running.”
Both players saw a lot of reps with both the first and second units, but they said it’s too soon to tell what kind of role they will be asked to fill.
“It’s probably too early to figure that out,” Eifert said. “I’ve been moving around a lot in two-tight end sets. But once we get to training camp, I’m sure I’ll have a better picture of what I’ll be doing.”
Bernard has been active in the passing and running game and also has been working as a punt returner.
“I think the biggest thing now is to just play football,” he said. “Enjoy what you do. Just go out and have fun and play fast. That’s what (running backs coach Hue) Jackson and (offensive coordinator Jay) Gruden want me to do — play fast.”
Bengals kicker Mike Nugent put the official wrap on the three-day mandatory minicamp Thursday with a couple of long field goals during the final team drill.
Nugent said he has enjoyed getting back to work after missing the final four games last year with a calf injury he suffered while practicing an onside kick.
“I feel great,” he said. “Last year was one of those fluke things that happened that you wish never did happen, but hopefully this year I’ll stay healthy and kick the ball straight.”
Nugent made 19-of-23 field goals last year, including a franchise record-tying 55-yarder. Josh Brown connected on 11-of-12 field goals in Nugent’s absence, including the game-winner in the final seconds at Pittsburgh that sent the Bengals to the playoffs. But the Bengals elected to let Brown go the free agency route while bringing back Nugent.
“It was a big vote of confidence,” he said. “We have a lot of the same faces back, and if you can keep your core guys together, that’s a really big advantage.”
While most Bengals players said they are planning on working out and relaxing during their six-week break before the start of training camp, offensive guard Kevin Zeitler has a full schedule.
He and fiancé Sara are getting married July 6 in Wisconsin.
“I invited the whole offensive line, but I think only Trevor (Robinson) is coming because it’s Fourth of July weekend and all those guys will be down south,” Zeitler said.
The official honeymoon in Hawaii will have to wait until next offseason, but the couple will be making a quick trip to Disney World right after the wedding.
Asked if he can squeeze his 6-foot-4, 315-pound frame onto the rides there, Zeitler said, “Not a chance. I’m just going for the food and fun.”