James Rapien

James Rapien

James Rapien came to talk sports and chew gum, and he's all out of gum.Full Bio


A Bengals Training Camp Q & A

We're three days into Bengals training camp and fans have plenty of questions. Here are some of the questions I was asked on Twitter:

Sal asks, "How good can Joe Mixon really be?"

Sal, I believe Mixon is the most talented running back the Bengals have had since Corey Dillon. He had a long run during Sunday's practice that would've resulted in a touchdown. Can he learn the pass protections and gain the trust of Andy Dalton, Ken Zampese and Kyle Caskey? If so, Mixon should have a big rookie year beginning on September 10 against the Baltimore Ravens. There's a reason the Bengals picked him in the second round despite his off-the-field issues. They buy into his talent and I don't blame them. 

David wonders if Jeremy Hill will start at running back early on in 2017? 

David, I would've said yes a few weeks ago. Now, I'm not so sure. I find it hard to believe Hill would start if Mixon learns the pass protections and Giovani Bernard is fully healthy. Mixon and Bernard are more talented than Hill. They can be interchangeable. Hill isn't as versatile as the other two. I could see a scenario where the Bengals bring Mixon along slowly and Hill starts in week one against the Ravens. I could also see a scenario where Bernard and Mixon get the majority of the work and Hill becomes a complementary part of the offense. It's still too early to tell, but I do know the Bengals like familiarity. Bernard and Mixon are more talented, but I think Hill will still get a decent amount of touches this season.

CincyBeerGuru wants to know if the offensive line will be any better?

It's obviously early and hard to tell since the players aren't in full pads. I will say that Cedric Ogbuehi went up against rookie Carl Lawson in one-on-ones and held his own. That may not sound like much, but Lawson is expected to give the Bengals' pass rush a boost this season. On day one of training camp there were multiple would-be sacks. It was a lot cleaner during Sunday's practice. It doesn't mean the line will be good this season, but the less we notice them, the better they're doing. IF they can be competent this year, the offense will be one of the best in the league. 

Robert asked if the Bengals could trade Jeremy Hill?

I've seen this tossed around on Twitter a lot throughout this offseason. The Bengals value Hill more than other teams would. Would they trade him for a starting caliber offensive linemen? First, that would mean giving up on Jake Fisher or Ogbuehi (assuming they traded for a tackle). NFL teams wouldn't be willing to give up much for a back who averaged 3.6 and 3.8 yards-per-carry over the past two seasons. They could change their tune if Tra Carson or Stanley 'Boom' Williams stand out in the preseason. I still think it's a safe bet that Hill is a Bengal for all of 2017, but anything could happen. 

A lot of fans have wondered about John Ross. Some think he's an injury prone speedster who can't do anything but run fast. I talked to Ross about the criticism he's received. I wanted fans to get an idea of Ross' quickness and route running ability. I took videos during the wide receiver drills during Sunday's practice. Watch Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd and John Ross go through the same drill below.

George Iloka left Sunday's practice with a right knee injury. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther believes it's a "minor" injury and Marvin Lewis didn't seem too concerned. 

Tony Pike and I will be at training camp this week with the latest updates and news. If you missed any of my training camp interviews with John Ross, Tyler Eifert, Williams Jackson III or Josh Malone, you can listen to them here. I also appeared on 700 WLW to recap the first three days of Bengals training camp. You can listen to that below.

Here's what I expect to see from John Ross and Joe Mixon this season. 

I talked with Dave Lapham about the Bengals' offensive line. 

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