COMMENTARY | OTAs are underway for the Cincinnati Bengals. Through two days there are already a number of news stories worth paying attention to as the headlines could end up having a bigger impact down the line.
While OTAs are nothing more than the players running around in shorts courtesy of the NFL prohibiting contact, it's typically a time of year where you can begin to develop an idea as to how the team is gelling together.
Unfortunately, it's also a time when injuries can occur, as is the case with the Bengals already.
Let's take a look at the biggest headlines coming out of the OTA sessions in Cincinnati thus far.
Andre Smith Absent From Practices
The collective hive mind of Cincinnati Bengals faithful were granted a long sigh of relief when right tackle Andre Smith agreed to a new contract with the team minutes before the Bengals went on the clock in the second round of the 2013 NFL draft and selected running back Giovani Bernard.
One of the reasons a deal took so long to get done was Smith's well-documented issues with his weight in the past. That and his ludicrous desire to be paid like a top left tackle after one above average season (yes, he plays right tackle).
Now, Smith was absent from the first OTA session. Unsurprisingly, head coach Marvin Lewis was vague in his explanation, but reassured the media it had nothing to do with conditioning as reported by Joe Reedy of The Cincinnati Enquirer via Twitter.
If you're a fan of the Bengals you can stop holding your breath as far as Smith goes. Well, at least for now.
Adam Jones Suffers a Minor Setback
Adam Jones has put together two solid campaigns the past couple of years with Cincinnati and is set to play an integral role with the team next season as the No. 3 cornerback behind Leon Hall and Dre Kirkpatrick.
In those few years, Jones has had his share of injury issues, but entered this offseason at 100 percent.
Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com reports that Jones suffered an injury to his calf muscle while defending a deep pass in practice. It doesn't sound like too serious of an injury, but it's one that could snowball into a nagging issue. Expect Jones to miss the rest of the practice sessions as a precaution.
Leon Hall Missing Time Thanks to Injury
Speaking of Leon Hall, the No. 1 corner on the roster in Cincinnati, he is also missing practice time thus far thanks to injury.
According to Geoff Hobson over at Bengals.com, Hall suffered a torn ligament in his thumb during a weight lifting session recently.
Now that may sound pretty serious, but the reality is he'll sit out as much as he needs at this stage in his career and likely won't skip a beat. It's an injury he'd be able to play through if the team had a matchup this weekend as long as the training staff tapes it up properly.
Emmanuel Lamur Impressing Players and Coaches
Last season backup linebacker Emmanuel Lamur quietly had a big year for the Bengals in nickel packages.
Lamur spent the offseason bulking up and apparently hasn't lost any of his speed that allowed him to be an effective weak-side linebacker in passing situations last season. Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com says Lamur is a name to watch moving forward:
"Watch out for Lamur. He looks like he's headed to a breakout year. Lamur, a free-agent out of Kansas State, played his rookie year at 230 pounds. This year's he's up to the 242-pound range and his teammates are raving about how he maintained his speed."
We're inclined to agree. If Lamur has developed enough by the time the season rolls around he may force the coaching staff's hand when it comes to the linebacker rotation. If Lamur is talented enough to be on the field every down, another linebacker in the starting rotation is going to have to take a seat because Vontaze Burfict isn't going anywhere. Maybe Rey Maualuga hits the bench?
Chris Roling is a graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. His work has appeared on Bleacher Report, Fansided, The Cincinnati Enquirer and more. He is the co-host of a Cincinnati Bengals podcast, @BengalsCentral
You can follow Chris on Twitter @Chris_Roling
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