Bengals, Rams will hold joint practices in August

Zac Taylor’s connection to Sean McVay leads to agreement to work together before preseason finale

Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor said he is looking forward to a unique opportunity to hold a pair of joint practices with the L.A. Rams this summer.

The two teams that played in Super Bowl LVI will hold a pair of practices together in Cincinnati prior to their preseason finale against one another Aug. 27 at Paul Brown Stadium. It’s an unofficial rematch of the championship game, which the Rams won 23-20.

Their preseason matchup will be televised nationally and now is scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m., an hour earlier than previously announced.

“I think we’re at a good point here, where the guys are comfortable in our systems, and so it’s gonna be a great opportunity,” Taylor said. “We have a normal training camp finally to get some work against another opponent. Probably as we keep going forward, we’re playing our starters less than the actual games, so I think the joint practices provide a good opportunity to control the practice, manufacture some situations that you can’t always manufacture in the games, get good work against a really good opponent. We’ve obviously got a lot of familiarity with the coaching staff. And so, to manage the practices, we feel really good about that. I think it’ll be a good opportunity for our guys.”

This will be the Bengals’ first joint practice under Taylor, who was an assistant on Sean McVay’s coaching staff in Los Angles prior to coming to Cincinnati in 2019.

Taylor served as an assistant wide receivers coach in 2017 and quarterbacks coach in 2018, and that relationship played a big factor in the decision to hold the joint practices.

“It’s important,” Taylor said. “I think every time I’ve ever done it, the head coaches always had good relationships, were able to manage their teams, know how to practice the right way. We know what we’re going to get from them from a practice structure-wise. They know how ours is. So, it’s not different philosophies in terms of how we practice. I think it’ll be good for both clubs.”

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The practices could be more entertaining than the actual preseason game since the starters likely won’t see much playing time but will participate in the practices.

Those will be good opportunities to see how much improved the Bengals’ offensive line is this year after Joe Burrow took seven sacks in the Super Bowl, including two by Aaron Donald. Donald almost sacked him a third time as Burrow was attempting a fourth-down pass at the end of the game. That pressure prevented the NFL Comeback Player of the Year from getting enough time to throw to an open Ja’Marr Chase down the sideline after Chase beat Jalen Ramsey on a go route.

Neither team will be the same, but Cincinnati signed three new starters on the offensive line with free agent additions Alex Cappa, Ted Karras and La’el Collins, and the joint practices could be a good test.

Taylor said the game — and the other two preseason matches — still could be a tool for evaluating potential starters like Jackson Carman, who currently is lining up with the first-team offense for the open left guard job. He will be competing with others like Hakeem Adeniji and D’Ante Smith, who also could be getting more opportunities the next two weeks while Cappa is being evaluated and held out because of a core muscle issue that Taylor said is “nothing overly concerning.”

The depth chart for the offensive line may not get sorted until after the final preseason game.

“I think there’s still plenty of opportunity for guys,” Taylor said. “Maybe Joe Burrow’s not playing as much, but there’s other guys that you want to put into situations where they’ve got to take some reps. We’ll evaluate who that is, but I think for second-year offensive linemen, they’ve had one year in the NFL. They’ve had an early chance to see how physical it is, how fast it is, how different it is. So the second training camp is really a big deal not only for Jackson, but Trey Hill and D’Ante (Smith) and all those other second-year guys, so really excited to see that group of guys that we drafted last year take that next step in the offseason and training camp.”

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