Eli Apple Contests It All

Eli Apple Contests It All

PLAYER OF THE DAY: LT Jonah Williams

The first day in pads meant Williams has officially begun his training camp scrums against Trey Hendrickson, the Bengals’ relentless soul on the edge who has picked off 23 sacks in his last 25 games.

Williams, the fourth-year player who never had a rookie year, is emerging as a solid, not-so-silent presence these days. Suddenly he’s quietly gone from making his first NFL start in Joe Burrow’s first NFL game to one of the senior Bengals. Only two starters on offense have been here longer than him, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon.

He had a one-on-one pass rush drill Tuesday that made some noise. He tied up Hendrickson twice in their two shots against each other and in team drills he kept quarterback Brandon Allen clean long enough for him to complete a 30-yard go ball to wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase.

“You win some, you lose some and you get better along the way is how I see it,” Williams said as he walked off the practice field.

Williams recently got some high praise from new center Ted Karras. Karras, a product of the Patriotic Belichick-Brady Super Bowl culture, quickly recognized that Williams was the first draft pick of the Zac Taylor Era in 2019 and the senior Bengal in the offensive line room.

“Jonah’s a great leader,” Karras said. “I’ve relied on Jonah Williams very heavily.”

Williams has no doubt that the matchup with Hendrickson in the last two camps has helped make him better along the way.

“A great player. I think he honestly has one of the best, if not, the best get-off in the league,” Williams said. “His first couple of steps are so fast that it really forces you to be good with your sets or else he’s going to get you.”

Williams came into the NFL with a big-league approach to the study of the game and now at 24 he’s that much sharper and has embraced a leadership role noted by the insightful newcomer Karras. He’s the only 2021 Opening Day starter on the line in the same spot and when the Bengals went out and signed three new O-line starters after the season it had him looking at a 2019 photo of the group.

“I was the last man standing,” Williams said. “When it comes to building a consistent culture in the locker room, it’s the ones who have been there who are the ones to pass it on. And then you bring in great character guys like we have and their little tidbits to add to the culture .We have a really great room and I’m proud to be one of the leaders.”

Karras isn’t a rah-rah guy and Williams isn’t a chatterbox. But they complement each other nicely. Williams, so diligent and good at studying film that he was basically an advance scout late in the rookie year he was on injured reserve, likes to do his leading one-on-one.

“Teddy’s the center, a vocal leader of the team,” Williams said. “I definitely can contribute knowing the system really well and having a lot of time in. I’m more I’ll go up and talk to a guy if I see something.”

PLAY OF THE DAY: WR Ja’Marr Chase

Think Pittsburgh last season late in the first half at old Heinz Field when Chase stunned the Steelers with 37 seconds left and broke a 7-7 tie. Remember when he stretched out on a go ball and caught the back end of the ball at the last instant?

That’s what he did Tuesday in team drills. He got great initial separation on cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and as Awuzie is want to do, he closed fast and reached out to disrupt Chase as he looked behind for the ball. Allen put the ball out in front and, as Chase has done all camp, he plucked it.

For the last week there have been some Titanic battles with Chase against Awuzie and the other No. 1 cornerback, Eli Apple, in a slew of contested balls. Apple got nicked up before that play and didn’t return to the practice, but he expects to be back the next time the Bengals are on the field on Thursday.

And Chase is enjoying the competition.

“Eli and Chido have been giving me good looks all year,” Chase said before practice. “Eli is a different corner from Chido. Chido is definitely more feet, Eli is more hands since he’s longer. It’s just giving me different looks and what I should be prepared for before the season.”

Chase on Apple’s competitiveness:

“He’s a villain with a good heart.”

SLANTS AND SCREENS: Joe Burrow, the center of attention on Monday as he watched practice, was nowhere to be found Tuesday. It goes back to what wide receiver Tyler Boyd said on Monday, “Stay off your feet, boss man.”

“He doesn’t have to be out here,” said Zac Taylor, who is looking for him to rest since he’s only a week out of surgery to remove his appendix…

Tuesday’s most impressive rookie was third-rounder Zach Carter, the Florida defensive tackle. Bengals radio analyst Dave Lapham got a good look at the one-on-one pass rush drills and he thought Carter really stood out. He also thought tackles Jonah Williams and D’Ante Smith did well.

The thing that Lapham noticed about Carter is he gave the back-up offensive linemen fits with his first step and they had trouble getting hands on him as he got around the outside. The only guy able to handle him was starting left guard Jackson Carman…

There weren’t a lot of booming punts, but first-year challenger Dru Chrisman outkicked veteran incumbent veteran Kevin Huber on Tuesday. Chrisman showed his improvement in directional punting and had some decent hang times while Huber didn’t get much length at all…

Undrafted rookie wide receiver Kwamie Lassiter II continues to show natural hands and in the last two days another CFA wide receiver has flexed his muscles in Wisconsin’s Kendric Pryor. Pryor has caught the ball well and on Tuesday he made two nifty grabs. On a ball that was underthrown he dove and plucked it off the ground. On a ball over the middle he made a nice catch in traffic while taking a shot to the face. Pryor had a nice pro day in Madison with a

a 4.38-second 40-yard dash and a 38.5-inch vertical leap…

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