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Observations from Bengals intra-squad scrimmage


The Cincinnati Bengals held their annual scrimmage Saturday at Paul Brown Stadium before a Family Day crowd of 11,108.

Competing in shoulder pads and shorts with no live tackling, the White Team, made up of the starters and key backups, defeated the Black Team, comprised of second- and third-string players, 16-6.

Andy Dalton threw touchdown passes to Ryan Hewitt and Joe Mixon.

Here are some observations from the 75-minute session:

Less offensive line

After struggling in back-to-back practices, the offensive line showed some signs of improvement.

›› RELATED: Bengals defense exploits offensive line in first night practice

“We started out camp real strong, then the last two days we hit a wall,” offensive line coach Paul Alexander said. “It gets to that point in camp, we’re at that point now, where the whole playbook is in, and then minds start going crazy. And then you push through it and the first preseason game usually looks like hell. And then it gets better each week.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but it was a heck of a lot better than it was the last couple days,” Alexander added.

Left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi got beat on a couple of plays and drew an illegal formation flag on the same play in which right tackle Jake Fisher got called for holding.

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Trey Hopkins, an offensive lineman the Bengals signed as an undrafted free agent in 2014, has been one of the surprise performers in camp, played left guard, center and right guard for the White team. Hopkins has been a bright spot on the line through the first eight practices while pushing Andre Smith for the starting job at right guard.

Asked if Hopkins has a chance to be one of his top five linemen, Alexander said, “I’ll say this, he’s at least the sixth guy.”

Stat lines

Dalton was 13 of 19 for 154 yards with two touchdowns. His 19-yard strike to Ryan Hewitt capped a 96-yard drive in which Dalton was 4 of 4 for 51 yards. His second TD pass came on a 4-yard connection with Mixon, who leaked out of the backfield uncovered, although it appeared as though defensive end Chris Smith got to Dalton in time for a sack.

AJ McCarron was 6 of 10 for 22 yards while leading the Black team against the White defense. After switching to the White team in place of Dalton, McCarron was 4 of 6 for 44 yards.

›› MORE: Newly acquired Bengals defensive end making push for roster spot

Third-string quarterback Jeff Driskel was 10 of 15 for 79 yards.

A.J. Green was the top receiver, catching four passes for 51 yards. Alex Erickson snagged three balls for 16 yards.

Newly signed Levonte “Kermit” Whitfield had four catches for 39 yards for the Black Team.

Jeremy Hill had four carries for 14 yards, while Giovani Bernard had two rushes for 3 yards and two receptions for 16 yards.

Rookie defensive end Carl Lawson and Carlos Dunlap each had 1.5 sacks. Defensive end Will Clarke had a sack and a batted down pass, and undrafted rookie linebacker Hardy Nickerson had a sack.

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Undrafted rookie linebacker Brandon Bell came the closest to an interception, deflecting a Dalton pass and nearly making a diving catch as the ball fell to the ground.

Rookie rallies

Rookie kicker Jake Elliott missed a 52-yard field wide left and an extra point wide right before rallying to make field goals of 32 and 51 yards, the latter of which came on the final play of the scrimmage.

“Misses are going to happen, and they always will, so the faster you can put those in the back of your mind and bounce back the faster you can gain your confidence back and get back on a roll,” Elliott said.

Incumbent Randy Bullock made field goals of 52 and 39 yards and converted his lone extra-point attempt.

Mixon, Malone make plays

Rookie second-round pick Joe Mixon continues to shine. In addition to a 4-yard touchdown reception, he carried three times for 20 yards for a 6.7 average in a non-tackling situation. Mixon also had two catches for 22 yards, including an 18-yard reception on a third-and-25 play.

›› RELATED: Bengals eager to take advantage of relaxed celebration rules this season

Rookie fourth-round wide receiver Josh Malone caught three passes for 20 yards, with one of the receptions coming on a third-and-4 play in which he beat Dre Kirkpatrick on a slant for a first down.

Plenty of penalties

With a full crew of officials working the scrimmage, the Bengals drew 10 penalties, eight of which were enforced.

Among the more notable ones was a 31-yard pass interference call against KeiVarae Russel on a deep ball to A.J. Green. Russell had good coverage on Green and didn’t appear to need to make the late contact that drew flags from two officials. William Jackson also got flagged for a 27-yard pass interference penalty on a deep ball from AJ McCarron to Cody Core.

And despite it being a non-tackling scrimmage, safety Clayton Fejedelem drew a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for contact to the head/neck area when he hit tight end Cethan Carter after an overthrown ball from Jeff Driskel.

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