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Sports Today: Bengals offense gets a scare while defense gains versatility

We’ve reached another summer Friday, so let’s not overthink this. Here’s a quick recap of a busy end of the week in the local sports world: 

We got a reminder yesterday about how quickly fortunes can turn in the NFL. One day you’re rookie Joe Mixon making headlines for running past defenders, the next you’re rookie Joe Mixon watching from a cart with a banged up heel

Of course there is good news here on two fronts: It appears he is fine, and Giovani Bernard’s faster-than-expected recovery from ACL surgery could mean whatever they get from Mixon this year is gravy anyway. 

›› MORE: Observations from Day 6 of Bengals training camp

Elsewhere in Bengals camp, Jay Morrison profiled Chris Smith, a smallish defensive end acquired from the Jaguars in the offseason. Smith cuts a similar profile to 2017 draft pick Carl Lawson, which would seem to indicate Cincinnati really is committed to getting quicker on that side of the ball. 

Of course, versatility has been a buzzword in the NFL forever… 

Yesterday was an interesting day at Ohio Statewhere we got to talk to several Buckeye receivers and their coach, Zach Smith. 

This is a group that has been one of the more fascinating ones throughout the Urban Meyer era in Columbus. 

The head coach famously called them a “clown show” early in his tenure (Remember 2012 when the offense was pretty much Braxton Miller left, Braxton Miller right and occasionally Carlos Hyde up the middle? Good times…) but evolved into a key part of the 2014 national championship run. 

Since then, the performances have been pretty uneven. While a lot of scorn has fallen on Smith’s position group, the fact remains five of his proteges have been drafted by NFL teams in the past two years (including Miller, who converted from quarterback as a senior). That means talent hasn’t been an issue. 

There are six four-star recruits with at least some experience available to Smith plus a converted defensive back and a trio of freshmen joining the fray. 

RELATED: Pressure on unproven Ohio State WRs

Will someone step up as a go-to receiver, or could the offense be better off without leaning too hard on someone (a la Curtis Samuel last year)? 

Given the rebuild Greg Schiano and Kerry Coombs pulled off with the secondary last year (something they have to recreate this year), the receivers are probably the biggest wild card on this Ohio State team because without Samuel, there probably aren’t going to be a lot of explosive plays from the running game… 

While all this was going on, the USA Today preseason coaches poll was releasedOhio State is second, joined by Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin in the top 10. 

It won’t necessarily matter in the long run, but that seems overly optimistic for, well, maybe all of those teams. 

But you know what that means? The Big Ten has returned to the big boys, at least when it comes to getting the benefit of the doubt in the preseason… 

The Reds got crushed last night as Sal Romano wasn't terrible but the offense could get nothing going. 

Worse news: Anthony DeSclafani got rocked during a rehab assignment with the Dayton Dragons, a start he left early with “right forearm discomfort” according to the Reds. 

Can you believe an injured Reds pitcher would have a setback? Crazy, I know. 

On the bright side, Dragons outfielder Jose Siri — one of Cincinnati’s top 10 prospects — extended his hitting streak to 39 games even as Dayton was drubbed 16-5 by the Great Lakes Loons… 

Lastly there are the Dayton Flyers

Not surprisingly, Sam Miller’s ill-fated trip to Greene County on Saturday night has gotten the attention of the national media

We’re still waiting to see what coach Anthony Grant does, but this is no way to ingratiate oneself with a new man in charge. 

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