USA Today Doesn’t Give the Bengals Much Hope for a Successful 2017

Training camps around the NFL are set to open, and with it publications are already making their picks for the upcoming season, and that includes USA Today.

The newspaper online today put out their picks, and have the Bengals winning just five games in 2017, this coming off an offseason in which the team didn’t make the postseason and struggled in 2016.

Here’s what USA Today had to say about the Bengals:

Cincinnati Bengals (5-11): The offensive line’s outlook is troubling, to say the least, especially with three consecutive road games against stout defensive teams (Jacksonville, Tennesee, Denver) in November. And will Marvin Lewis’ lame duck status only ratchet up the pressure on a team that tends to underachieve when it counts most?

The paper picks the Steelers (to no ones shock) to win the AFC North going 12-4.

Bengals Moving Andre Smith to Guard

Andre Smith hasn’t played guard since he was in 9th grade but is preparing to play guard again. He’s the likely replacement in the Bengals starting lineup for Kevin Zeitler who signed as a free agent with Cleveland, Geoff Hobson of reports.

“I think Andre has a chance to be terrific at guard,” said offensive line coach Paul Alexander. “He’s getting to start from the beginning this year with the base techniques and then learn the offense as he goes. If we all of the sudden picked him up a week before the season and said, ‘Go play right guard,’ I don’t think he could do it. But going through this progression I think he’ll be fine.”

“Everything happens a lot faster at guard – that’s one thing that I’ve noticed – but it’s been a fun experience transitioning from tackle to guard,” said Smith. “Physically everything happens a little faster and mentally you have to think about a lot more than you do at tackle.”

Andre will be tested at training camp by trying to block five-time Pro Bowler Geno Atkins.

“I’m fortunate to go up against Geno every day,” said Smith. “It helps me prepare for the other really good defensive lineman in the NFL. It forces me to work on my technique and make sure that I have everything down pat.”

Smith spent his first seven NFL seasons in Cincinnati after being the sixth overall pick in the 2009 draft. The Minnesota Vikings signed Andre to a one-year free agent deal in 2016, but a triceps injury ended his season after four games.

After Andrew Whitworth and Zeitler left Cincinnati as free agents this spring, the Bengals brought Smith back on a one-year, $3.25 million deal.

Report: Bengals QB Andy Dalton Making Huge Improvements in Velocity

Andy Dalton has never been known for his arm strength, but the Bengals passer reportedly has seen tangible improvements in his velocity after working with gurus Tom House and Adam Dedeaux at their 3DQB training facility in Los Angeles, Marc Sessler of reports.

“His arm is as strong as ever right now,” Dedeaux said of Dalton after a recent throwing session in Dallas, per “The jump from two years ago to last year, we’ve seen a pretty big jump in his arm strength. We test for velocity, and test for distance and I think he’s even probably surprised himself sometimes. For every one mile an hour he can be pretty close to a yard.”

Hue Jackson, the current Browns coach and ex-Bengals play-caller, and current coordinator Ken Zampese openly encouraged Dalton to seek offseason help after the 2014 campaign. Remember, these workouts happen during a time when players and coaches are forbidden from gathering.

Fans witnessed a transformation in Dalton’s play beginning in 2015 — when he operated at an MVP level for half a season — and Dedeaux says the Bengals signal-caller isn’t finished improving.

“He was throwing the ball as well, if not better, than he ever has,” Dedeaux said of their time together. “Right now he’s in the prime of his career. I just wanted to see him with more variables and more randomness going on, making sure he’s staying true to form and he is, he looks great. We’re just looking for that one percent of what we’re always working on, but one percent better every time. Arm strength. Getting rid of the ball faster. Good feet. Sound mechanics. Similar themes, just taking it to the next level.”

Bengals Top Pick WR John Ross Weary of Defending Medical History

Bengals rookie John Ross is trying to fight back against the perception he’s injury prone, Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

He knew his injuries. In January of 2015 he had surgery on his right lateral meniscus. In April of 2015 he had surgery for a torn ACL. Five games into last season he tore the labrum in his shoulder, played through it for nine games and underwent surgery in March after the Combine.

Yet, when people started texting about what was circulating it sounded quite different.

“People were saying I tore both my ACLs, I was playing on an MCL sprain,” Ross said during his arrival to Cincinnati after being selected No. 9 overall. “I had to go ask my doctors, I was like ‘Was this me?” I had to check my medical history. I don’t remember none of that happening.”

Eventually, Ross asked that his agent issue a statement with the specifics on the three injuries he endured during his four years at the University of Washington.

“It gets frustrating because you can play a whole season and injuries could happen several years ago,” Ross said. “I don’t feel the need to keep defending myself. Like I was telling the coaches you can get hurt doing anything, so I don’t really feel the pressure to defend myself.”

Bengals Ink First-Round Pick WR John Ross and 4th Round Pick LB Carl Lawson

It didn’t take long for the Bengals to ink a couple players they hope will be big stars for the team sooner than later, as the team announced today the signing of 1st round pick WR John Ross and 4th round pick LB Carl Lawson.

“Emotional for my family,” said Ross on the Bengals official site.

“The biggest thing is just to see how happy my family is. That’s really the biggest part. When I see them. I’m the first generation to go to a university and just to see how happy it’s s going to make my mom and my grandmothers.”

A Rundown of All the Cincinnati Bengals 2017 NFL Draft Picks

Sports Illustrated has a complete rundown of all of the Bengals 2017 Draft Picks and some commentary as well.

Round 1, Pick 9 (No. 9 overall)

John Ross, WR, Washington: What was viewed as an elite draft for defensive talent sees six offensive players off the board in the first nine picks. Go figure. As was the case with Davis at No. 5, Ross’s health issues did not hold him back at all come Round 1. Heading into this draft, the Bengals needed to find help for A.J. Green, who was surrounded on the depth chart before Thursday by names like Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd. Ross is the explosive game-changer that was missing—the question is if he can stay on the field.? GRADE: B+

Round 2, Pick 16 (No. 48, from the Vikings)

Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma: The Bengals have never shied away from players with red flags, so they always shaped up as a possible match for Mixon. That’s also true because of their need at running back. Cincinnati’s current backfield bruiser, Jeremy Hill, has proven ineffective. Even at his best, he never had the upside of Mixon, who might have pushed into the top 10 without that horrible off-field incident while he was at Oklahoma. The talent is not a question, at all. There are a lot of other questions, though. He has been under a microscope from NFL evaluators after he punched a woman in 2014. Can the Bengals trust him?? GRADE: B

Round 3, Pick 9 (No. 73)

Jordan Willis, LB, Kansas State: No knock intended on Willis, who tore up the combine, but his actual tape suggested more of a late-Round 2/early-Round 3 value. It’s a good find for the Bengals where they got him, because they needed someone else capable of pressuring the QB off the edge. GRADE: B+?

Round 4, Pick 9 (No. 116) Carl Lawson, OLB, Auburn

Round 4, Pick 22 (No. 128) Josh Malone, WR, Tennessee

Round 4, Pick 33 (No. 138) Ryan Glasgow, DT, Michigan

Round 5, Pick 9 (No. 153) Jake Elliott, K, Memphis

Round 5, Pick 33 (No. 176) J.J. Dielman, C, Utah

Round 6, Pick 9 (No. 193) Jordan Evans, LB, Oklahoma

Round 6, Pick 23 (No. 207) Brandon Wilson, RB, Houston

Round 7, Pick 33 (No. 251) Mason Schreck, TE, Buffalo

Bengals Willing to Part with Backup QB A.J. McCarron; But the Price is High

There could be a new quarterback on the market as the draft is now just two days away, that being Bengals QB A.J. McCarron.

Reports say that the backup to Andy Dalton is indeed available, but the Bengals want a lot to give him up, ‘!t least” a first round pick for him.

Ian Rapoport of broke the story about the Bengals having McCarron available, but it’s going to be interesting to see if there’s any teams out there that would pay such a price.

McCarron will carry a cap number of $735,000 in 2017, not bad and basically cheap for one of the top backup QB’s in football.

A Look at the 2017 Bengals Schedule with a Glance at the Good and the Bad

The 2017 NFL Schedule is out as well as the 2017 Cincinnati Bengals Schedule, and here’s a look at the slate for the upcoming season, with the home games in bold:

Sep. 10 Baltimore Ravens 1:00 PM

Sep. 14 Houston Texans (Thu) 8:25 PM

Sep. 24 at Green Bay Packers 4:25 PM

Oct. 1 at Cleveland Browns 1:00 PM

Oct. 8 Buffalo Bills 1:00 PM

Oct. 15 BYE

Oct. 22 at Pittsburgh Steelers 1:00 PM

Oct. 29 Indianapolis Colts 1:00 PM

Nov. 5 at Jacksonville Jaguars 1:00 PM

Nov. 12 at Tennessee Titans 1:00 PM

Nov. 19 at Denver Broncos 4:25 PM

Nov. 26 Cleveland Browns 1:00 PM

Dec. 4 Pittsburgh Steelers (Mon) 8:30 PM

Dec. 10 Chicago Bears 1:00 PM

Dec. 17 at Minnesota Vikings 1:00 PM

Dec. 24 Detroit Lions 1:00 PM

Dec. 31 at Baltimore Ravens 1:00 PM

What’s Good about this Schedule: Following three road games that we will chat about in a moment, the Bengals get three home games, with two of them against rivals in the Browns and Steelers, with the game against the Steelers being a Monday night prime time showdown. The home three-game set ends with another bad team in the Bears.

What’s Bad about this Schedule: Before that three-game home stretch they play on the road for three, as the month of November won’t be easy, going up against the Jags, Titans and Broncos. You’d have to think the Bengals have to find a way to win two of these to keep their name in the playoff mix in the AFC.