“We’re going to operate like we’re going to have four (preseason games),” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said last week when preseason dates were just tentative. “I’d like to have four. We have a lot of work to do from last season. Again, that to me is those live reps that we want and we need and we’ll take them. I certainly am hopeful that it’ll be four games. They haven’t made any comment about what to expect. So again, if we get four, that will be great. That way our guys, again, can continue to grow from last season. We need all those reps.”
The Bengals have seven draft picks and about a dozen college free agent signings who will be looking to get their first taste of the NFL in those preseason games. Coaches use those games to evaluate players before making their final cuts.
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Burrow, the team’s new starting quarterback, will need as many reps as he can get with the offense before the real games begin.
“It’s just different when the lights come on,” Taylor said. “You see them respond against a different scheme that’s different from what they see in practice and how quickly they play well under those bright lights. Certainly the rookies need those four games. They need as many as you’re going to give them. I’m hopeful that works out but right now it’s a an unknown.”
Asked if teams might be looking to arrange closed-door scrimmages in case training camp or preseason games are cut short, Taylor said he hasn’t had any discussions like that.
Some teams do joint practices with upcoming preseason opponents, like when the Bengals hosted the Vikings for a week ahead of their exhibition game in 2016. That could still be a possibility, Taylor said, but it’s not in the works right now.
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“A lot of times that’s arranged back in February,” Taylor said. “As of right now we’re not arranged to practice with any teams. Sometimes when the schedule comes out you start to reach out to some of those coaches if you see something that fits for them. But I haven’t heard anything in regards to not being able to practice with somebody else.”