Sports Today: Here’s one way Bengals could get something out of the rest of 2017

Cincinnati Bengals players were off Tuesday, but there was an intriguing move by the organization. 

Jeff Driskel being cleared for practice might end up meaning nothing, but it gives Marvin Lewis a chance to do something good for the organization’s future if he wants to. 

For all the talk about seeing what A.J. McCarron can do, playing him now doesn’t amount to much more than rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. 

While I am curious to see if he could add more of a spark than Andy Dalton in the huddle, I think the Bengals know what McCarron can do. Physically, he can play in the NFL, but is he an upgrade over Dalton? I doubt it. 

They never seem to have considered making a move despite multiple times during the season it might have made sense, and the failed trade to the Browns really is telling as well. 

There’s no chance the Bengals make that move if they have much respect for McCarron’s potential. Maybe Hue Jackson is more bullish on McCarron, or maybe he was just desperate for someone to stabilize the position and make 0-16 less likely in Cleveland. 

I know McCarron thanked ownership for trying to give him an opportunity to play, but they’re not running a charity. It’s cool for him if he gets to play, but that shouldn’t be a move they make simply out of goodwill. It has to make football sense. 

(At some point we should also point out that just because Driskel has been cleared to practice doesn’t mean he is going to actually be healthy enough to play before the season is over.) 

Driskel had a nice preseason, and he is an intriguing prospect because he probably brings more to the table than Dalton or McCarron from a physical standpoint. 

Driskel was the No. 1-rated dual-threat quarterback prospect in the class of 2011, beating out Wayne’s Braxton Miller for the top spot. 

He did not live up to that hype at Florida, though that was no doubt greatly impacted by Urban Meyer’s unexpected (and brief) retirement prior to his freshman year. 

Ranking recruits is an inexact science, but being highly rated generally guarantees at least one thing: Great physical talent. 

The Bengals obviously see something in him or they would not have kept him last year or left open the possibility for him to play this season. 

Will anyone else get a chance to take a glimpse before 2017 comes to an end? 

Another day, another report about the Cincinnati Reds potentially trading Billy Hamilton. 

After I wisely (hmmm…) projected the Reds probably won’t trade their speedy center fielder and fan favorite, there were reports early Tuesday he might in fact be headed to San Francisco this week

By the end of the day, had thrown some cold water on that with a report “a trade did not appear to be close.” 

Will anything happen today? Stay tuned. 

The reason I have thought the most likely scenario is Hamilton staying in Cincinnati is this: They almost certainly want to be blown away by an offer, and that probably won’t happen. 

I’m surprised at the original leak about a deal being in “advanced stages,” but maybe that was a trial balloon. 

My guess is this would not be a popular trade. There are definitely fans who are ready to give up on his bat, but more are invested in the unique skills he brings even if he doesn’t get much better than he is. 

Plus for a team that has been selling hope for multiple seasons already, it’s hard to move on from one of those sources of hope, right? 

We’ll see. 

The other problem is trading Hamilton doesn’t really solve the four-outfielders-for-three-spots situation. 

The success or failure of this rebuild is going to hinge on the plethora of young pitchers who as a whole stunk it up in the first half of last season before a handful looked good late. 

Billy Hamilton stealing bases and making highlight-reel catches could be a big part of maintaining fan support while the club waits to see what those guys can do, though... 

Speaking of recruiting, Ohio State’s already great class got another big boost last night with the commitments of Kamryn Babb and Tommy Togiai.

As you’ve probably guessed if you’ve been following Urban Meyer’s recent recruiting, neither of these guys are from Ohio. 

Of course it is hard to quibble with efforts that have produced the No. 1 class in the country, but I still can’t shake the feeling Meyer might be making a mistake by leaving his home state behind almost entirely this year (and one can assume in the future). 

Sometimes building a national championship team is about more than just putting together an all-star roster, something Michigan learned late in the Lloyd Carr era and Meyer found out at Florida. Perhaps USC and Notre Dame know a thing or two about this, too. 

This is a topic that deserves more examination, though I’m curious your thoughts whether you are a fan, coach or recruit. 

Let me know on FacebookTwitter or email

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