The Cincinnati Bengals have been meeting with the position coaches and coordinators since April to prepare for the season, but as the games draw closer there are going to be some player-only meetings taking place around Paul Brown Stadium.
Because the best touchdown celebrations don’t just happen by chance.
They need to be choreographed, and this year that’s something that will be allowed after the NFL announced in May it was relaxing the rules on celebrations.
In addition to allowing players to go back to using the ball as a prop, the league also will allow group celebrations.
“Nobody’s talked about it yet, but once we start getting close to the preseason games, guys will start talking about let’s do this or let’s do that, coming up with handshakes or dances or whatever,” wide receiver Tyler Boyd said.
The first game is Aug. 11, so the planning phase could start any time now.
And you can bet running back Jeremy Hill will be the ring leader.
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“Right now we’re so focused on getting better that we haven’t even talked about it at all,” Hill said. “I’m sure there will probably be some antics or something like that.”
Hill has made a habit of celebrating his touchdowns with dances, and he always worked within the parameters of what used to be a more stringent rule book, never drawing a flag.
With the reins loosened in 2017, the show should grow.
“I’m always in favor of fun and entertaining the fans who have paid a lot of money to come out to see us,” Hill said. “The new rule was definitely something I was glad to see.”
In a letter to fans from Commissioner Roger Goodell, the league said its aim is to allow players “more room to have fun after they make big plays.”
“We know that you love the spontaneous displays of emotion that come after a spectacular touchdown,” Goodell wrote in the letter. “And players have told us they want more freedom to be able to express themselves and celebrate their athletic achievements.”
Nearly every Bengalwho was asked about the new rule was in favor of it, even those who don’t plan to take advantage of it.
“More times than not I probably won’t celebrate,” tight end Tyler Eifert said. “It’s not my style really. I’m just happy to have scored a touchdown. But if someone has something they want to do … .”
A big question will be whether players like Eifert and Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green, whose touchdown reactions are especially muted, will be willing to put personal style aside to have some fun with the group.
“That’s a good question,” Hill said. “Not all of these guys are into that stuff.
“We have some formal gentlemen in here,” he added with a laugh.
In addition to Green, wide receiver Brandon LaFell is more reserved when it comes to celebrating scores, and they clearly are the leaders at their position. No other receiver has more than one year of experience.
“I haven’t been around long enough to have a say in what we’ll do,” rookie first-round pick John Ross said. “I’m not really big on celebrations anyhow. It will just depend on how my teammates are feeling. I don’t like to do anything by myself, but if guys are going to run up to me, I’ll do something with them. That’s always fun.”
Like Hill, Boyd is a player who won’t have any reservations about celebrating a touchdown, especially after only getting into the end zone once last year as a rookie.
“I’m not going to go into detail or depth about my celebrations, but I know I’m going to do a couple things,” he said. “I feel that I’m going to get in the end zone a lot more this year. So I’m definitely going to show my personality to the crowd.
“Once one of us scores, we all show the love,” he added. “But now that we really get to celebrate and do goofy stuff, we’re definitely going to have something for the audience. Stay tuned.”