Several players coming back from injury are making good progress and Taylor is hopeful everyone except maybe linebacker Joe Bachie – who tore his ACL late in December – will be ready for the start of training camp or at least early in camp. Bachie likely will need more time to get back.
Asked specifically about Tee Higgins, Logan Wilson and Joseph Ossai, Taylor said all three are progressing toward potentially being cleared by camp. Wilson and Higgins both had shoulder surgery after the Super Bowl, and Ossai tore his ACL last August but had another minor procedure this offseason to help his recovery.
“I’m hopeful,” Taylor said. “You know, I should be careful to say someone is going to be ready day one of training camp. But the thought is they’ve really attacked the rehab, doing all the things, the progression has been as we hoped it would be. It remains to be seen these five weeks how they handle it, but I’m encouraged that they’ll be ready to go.”
Taylor expects guard Alex Cappa to be ready for the start of training camp as well. Cappa has been nursing a core muscle issue but doing some side work during OTAs.
The next five weeks Taylor will be finalizing “things that are important personally for the season” to make sure the team is ready to hit the ground running in July and that training camp runs smoothly. He, too, will take advantage of some time off to spend time with family in Cincinnati.
“It’s really the first, as you mentioned, normal offseason,” Taylor said. “We’re going to try to make it the first normal summer, where we just wake up and have coffee and spend time here in the area. I think so often as my years as a coach, this first day of vacation you’re booking your plans to go see this or that and get out of the city you’re in. We truly enjoy it here for a reason. So we want to spend the time to actually get to enjoy it without the stress of planning the day and getting ready for the day. And so it’ll be nice to kind of sit around and enjoy Cincinnati for a couple weeks.”
Taylor joked that his favorite thing to do is plan training camp. He and his coaching staff will make a few tweaks this year, but nothing that would easily be noticed. Some segments of practices will be longer than others compared to last year, and the structure of the weeks could be different just based on when preseason games fall.
“The structure of the actual practice itself remains relatively unchanged,” Taylor said. “I thought we had a good training camp last year. We got what we needed out of it, got everything installed, got the right level of contact with the padded practices. This year, we’ll throw in the wrinkle of practicing against a different team (Rams) for two days, which I think will be good. So again, I’m excited to get some work done this training camp, the way it’s going to fall for us.”