- By Jay Morrison Staff Writer
The Cincinnati Bengals held their rookie camp over the weekend, and it resulted in three tryout players performing well enough to earn contracts .
Here are five other observations from the weekend:
First-round pick Billy Price not only was in uniform for the rookie camp, he was able to run a few drills despite recovering from a surgically repaired pectoral injury suffered at the Combine.
Price, a center from Ohio State, isn’t cleared to the point where he could participate if this was training camp, but with players in shorts and no pads, he was able to do much more than just watch and take mental reps, which is a positive sign for a team that has seen it’s last three first-round picks contribute next to nothing as rookies.
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It’s no surprise that a second-round pick would stand out in a rookie camp where most of the other players will never appear in an NFL game and many will never even see another NFL practice.
But safety Jessie Bates looked especially athletic and smooth, and not just on defense. Bates also caught punts and looked more steady and sure-handed than fifth-rounder Darius Phillips, who had five kickoff and one punt return touchdown in college.
Bates will be a guy to keep an eye on when the rookies get on the field with the veterans next week for the start of Phase III of OTAs.
The biggest story from the weekend was undrafted free agent Quinton Flowers switching from quarterback to running back .
But it was clear after two days that the Bengals see Flowers as more than a running back, as he also lined up as the personal protector on punt coverage, caught punts as a returner and both threw passes and ran the ball out of the wildcat formation.
Despite back-to-back losing seasons, the Bengals don’t figure to have many openings for a UFA to crack the 53-man roster, but Flowers versatility could earn him a spot.
The biggest surprise among the 11 players the Bengals picked in the draft was Mark Walton, the Miami (Fla.) running back the team grabbed in the fourth round.
Using such a high pick on a position where there wasn’t much need raised some questions, but Walton showed why the Bengals couldn’t pass on him.
His burst during 11-on-11 plays and quickness in position drills set him apart from the other backs at the camp. Even Flowers, an athletic quarterback who rushed for 3,672 yards and 41 touchdowns in college, looked noticeably slower.
The rookie camp offered the media the first glimpse of how practices will run with so many new assistant coaches on the staff, and nowhere was the climate change more apparent than with the offensive line group.
Frank Pollack is a stark contrast to Paul Alexander, who coached the offensive line the last 23 years. Whereas Alexander was more clinical and analytic, Pollack is intense and loud and runs his drills at a much faster pace.
It will be a while before we find out if that translate to better performance in the games, which is something the desperately needs, but if Pollack’s presence was that noticeable in rookie camp, imagine what things will look – and sound – like when the pads go on in training camp.