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. 

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

USC ends turmoil-filled season with NIT home loss to Western Kentucky
USC ends turmoil-filled season with NIT home loss to Western Kentucky

A team that began the season No. 10 in the country but never lived up to that ranking saw its disappointing season come to an end on Monday night by losing at home to Western Kentucky in the second round of the NIT. The 79-75 loss put the Trojans’ final record at 24-12, two wins shy of matching last year’s school record. That...
Washington rally falls short in NIT second-round loss at Saint Mary’s
Washington rally falls short in NIT second-round loss at Saint Mary’s

For most of what ended up being a very successful season overall, Washington relied heavily on a defense that made opponents work overtime to get their points. That wasn’t the case on Monday, causing the Huskies’ season to come to an end. Washington fell 85-81 at Saint Mary’s in the second round of the NIT, nearly rallying...
Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell era ends with blowout loss to Central Michigan
Ohio State’s Kelsey Mitchell era ends with blowout loss to Central Michigan

Central Michigan looked far from an 11 seed Monday night.  The Chippewas crushed third-seeded Ohio State 95-78 at St. John Arena to advance to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.  That brought an end to the brilliant career of Ohio State point guard Kelsey Mitchell.  She scored 28 points to finish with 3,402...
4-star center Bryan Penn-Johnson commits to Washington
4-star center Bryan Penn-Johnson commits to Washington

Jevon Carter, Keenan Evans on Bleacher Report All-Tournament Team
Jevon Carter, Keenan Evans on Bleacher Report All-Tournament Team

Amidst all the chaos in college basketball’s postseason so far, the Big 12 still has four schools left in the Big Dance. And without Jevon Carter and Keenan Evans, that wouldn’t be the case. Carter, the senior West Virginia guard, has the Mountaineers in the Sweet Sixteen playing 1-seed Villanova. Carter is averaging ...
More Stories