During the first practice of Bengals rookie minicamp over the weekend, quarterback Andy Dalton watched from the tunnel inside Paul Brown Stadium and saw tight end Tyler Eifert make a one-handed catch in traffic. That reception, and a couple others, brought a smile to the third-year quarterback's face.
With the selections of Eifert in the first round and running back Giovani Bernard in the second, the Bengals offense has some weapons that they have been lacking. While there were five games last year in which they scored 30 or more points, which is the first time they had done that since 2005, the Bengals offense was ranked 22nd in the league, which is the fifth straight year they have been 20th or lower.
Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden didn't ease either one into the flow of things. Starting with the first practice he lined up Eifert all over the field and also had a steady amount of screen passes for Bernard.
"I've been impressed with how they are studying and working hard," Gruden said. "When they mess up you can tell it hurts them and they don't want to do it again. Those two guys are focused on what they can bring to the team and they are going to be very good players."
Eifert made another nice play in the final 11-on-11 period on Sunday when he went up down the middle and snagged it in double coverage.
The biggest reasons why the Bengals took Eifert was because of his natural ball skills and his ability to catch the ball in traffic. Coach Marvin Lewis said he was happy with the other things Eifert was doing, like run blocking.
"It will be great to get him in there and work with Jermaine. Those two guys together will be something to deal with," Gruden said.
Bernard gives the Bengals a back that they haven't had in Lewis' 11 seasons here -- one with speed who can also be dangerous catching the ball out of the backfield. There were a couple times over the weekend where Bernard caught a screen pass and was gone up the sideline.
While the Bengals did well over the first quarter of last season in yards after the catch, they were inconsistent the rest of the year. Instead of grinding out yards, this offense needs another playmaker that can generate big chunks of yardage in space.
"He's got great hands and makes people miss on the second level," Gruden said. "Andy needs some of those short passes that turn into 25-yard gains. It's a lot easier on a quarterback. Instead of grinding out every first down with the exception of throwing one deep to A.J. (Green) every now and then we need some guys to get better running after the catch and breaking tackles after contact."
--Safety Shawn Williams, who was selected in the third round, spent plenty of time with defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer over the weekend, which generally happens during rookie minicamp when a defensive back is selected early. Many expect Williams to earn the starting spot at strong safety by the time the regular season opens, but Zimmer has not made that commitment yet.
"We know what he can do in run support, now we have to see if he can cover," Zimmer said. "He has the ability to cover, he just has to. He has to work on his technique some. If he gets his body position in good shape he should be good."