After a skirmish-marred practice Tuesday and an off day Wednesday, the Cincinnati Bengals were back in action Thursday on the practice fields adjacent to Paul Brown Stadium.
Here are some observations from Day 6 of training camp:
Rookie running Joe Mixon limped off the field about midway through the practice and did not return, but his absence was merely precautionary after a teammate accidentally kicked his heel. Mixon watched a portion of practice from a cart as he iced his heel, then made his way back on the field to watch the final few drills with his teammates.
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Also in positive injury news, defensive end Michael Johnson returned after missing the last four practices with an undisclosed injury, and safety Derron Smith made his first appearance on the rehab field and said he expects to be back soon after injuring his ankle when a teammate rolled up on it Sunday.
Safety George Iloka, offensive lineman T.J. Johnson, defensive tackle David Dean, cornerback Tony McRae, wide receiver Chris Brown joined Smith on the rehab field.
The only two players who did not participate at all were wide receiver Jake Kumerow, who has been in a walking boot since injuring his ankle last Friday, and linebacker P.J. Dawson, whose right arm was in a cast and sling.
The Bengals did their most extensive 11-on-11 work Thursday, including a number of situational drills. In one, the offense started at its own 20 with head coach Marvin Lewis announcing “all we need is one first down to win the game.” Neither the first- or second-team offense got the first down.
There also were a number of red zone and a handful of goal-line snaps.
Despite the added reps, none of the three quarterbacks threw an interception in 11-on-11 drills after the defense recorded multiple picks in each of the first five practices.
There also was a short round of 11-on-11s that was merely a vehicle to work on rushing the field goal unit onto the field, both with a full 40-second game clock after a timeout or spike as well as the more urgent scenario of a running clock without timeouts.
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Randy Bullock was good with 34 with the clock stopped and 39 with it running, while rookie Jake Elliott hit from 38 and 39 with the clock stopped in both instances.
A full crew of officials were on hand Thursday, and they’ll be back for Friday’s night practice and Saturday’s scrimmage. The officials also will meet with the players Friday to go over the rule changes for 2017.
Despite throwing a couple of flags for illegal motion and illegal formation, the officials mostly went unnoticed. There but there were a couple of plays were they stood out, both involving wide receiver A.J. Green. On the first, an official threw a flag on Green for offensive pass interference, ruling he pushed off on Darqueze Dennard.
Later in the practice, Adam Jones went down while covering Green and lobbied for a flag, that didn’t come. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict ran over to the official, took the flag out of his waistband and yelled, “Hey, A.J.” and then threw the flag at him when he turned around. Green picked it up and punted it.