Observations from Bengals training camp

Blessed with unseasonably cool temperatures and low humidity for much of training camp, the Cincinnati Bengals held their hottest practice yet on Tuesday, with the mercury approaching 90 degrees.

The proverbial heat, however, was much lower as the defense dialed back on the blitzes that wrecked the offense for much of Monday’s practice.

Here are some observations from the penultimate full practice of camp:

Iloka returns

Starting safety George Iloka was back on the practice field for the first time since being carted off with a knee injury July 30 .

Iloka was limited to position drills but said he was encouraged by the progress he’s making as the knee heals but didn’t want to put a target date on his return, which is expected to be by the season opener, if not sooner.

“I’m getting better,” he said. “I haven’t had any setbacks, so it’s progressing upwards. I’m happy, positive about that. Pretty sure they’re happy about that. I’ll be out there when I’m out there.”

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When Iloka went down early in the July 30 practice, he slammed his hand into the ground and limped off the field. He admitted Tuesday he thought it was bad.

“Any time as an athlete something happens to your knee, especially non-contact, and it goes in a direction that biomechanically it’s not supposed to, you’re obviously going to think the worst,” Iloka said. “And it hurt like hell. But I’m happy that it wasn’t anything serious and I’m just working my butt off in the rehab period with Nick (Cosgray, the team’s director of rehab). I’m in good hands. I know fast he brought back Gio (Bernard), so I like to call him the knee guru. I’m in good hands. I’ll be out there soon enough.”

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In addition to doing individual drills, Iloka pitched in and caught passes from all three quarterbacks during one of their drills where coach Bill Lazor ran at them with his hands up, forcing them to throw over top of him.

“They say the more you can do,” Iloka joked.

Deep issues

After struggling to get passes off Monday, quarterback Andy Dalton had more time to throw Tuesday but struggled on deep balls.

He overthrew A.J. Green on a deep cross when the Pro Bowl receiver had beaten cornerback Will Jackson and safety Cedric Thompson, and later Dalton was too long again when Green had gotten behind cornerback Darqueze Dennard.

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Dalton also overthrew Tyler Eifert on a mid-range pass down the sideline, and he had a throw that was high and hot that went through Tyler Boyd’s hands in a red-zone drill, although both players probably could share the blame on that one.

Excessive effort

A pair of linebackers drew the ire of Lewis on separate occasions.

The first came about midway through the practice when Marquis Flowers blitzed, got to quarterback Jeff Driskel and carried things too far, slapping at the ball with both hands. Driskel looked at Flowers in disbelief and spent the next minute or so shaking off the pain. Lewis loudly proclaimed his frustration with Flowers and sent him off for a few plays.

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Six snaps later, linebacker Vontaze Burfict had words with left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi after a play and had to be separated by running back Joe Mixon and wide receiver Brandon LaFell. Lewis quickly approached Burfict and had words with him.

Injury update

Running back Tra Carson returned to take part in individual drills after leaving early with an ankle injury Monday. Running back Cedric Peerman, who returned Monday, took his first snaps in 11s. Rookie tight end Cethan Carter left early and watched from a cart ice on his foot/ankle area. Wide receiver Cody Core (ankle) and cornerback KeiVarae Russell (concussion) sat out for the second day in a row, although Russell worked on the rehab field. Tight end C.J. Uzomah (ankle) and linebacker P.J. Dawson (wright) remained sidelined.

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Quick hits

There was a slight scare when safety Derron Smith gave wide receiver Alonzo Russell a shove following an incompletion on an out route, resulting in Russell going down a small slope into into a few rows of evergreen trees. Smith waited for Russell to emerge and the two shared a laugh with no hard feelings. … First-round pick John Ross ramped up his workload and caught several passes as he got wide open on a couple of routes and caught his first practice touchdown. … AJ McCarron threw back-to-back touchdown passes in a red-zone drill, connecting with Ross against Adam Jones first and then hitting Russell to beat Dre Kirkpatrick. … Dennard had the lone interception of the day, picking off McCarron on a play in which safety Josh Shaw could have been credited with a sack. … Undrafted linebacker Hardy Nickerson continued his impressive camp with a tackle for loss and a sack. … Defensive tackle Andrew Billings capped the practice with an impressive play on the final snap, driving left guard Clint Boling into the backfield, where Mixon ran into him on a first-and-goal play at the 2.

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