Fri May 10 3:44pm ET
By JOE KAY
AP Sports Writer
Cincinnati Bengals quarterbacks Ryan Finley, left, and Jake Dolegala run a drill during NFL football rookie minicamp Friday, May 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Cincinnati Bengals tight end Drew Sample, front, catches a ball during an NFL football rookie minicamp Friday, May 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley drops back to pass during NFL football rookie minicamp Friday, May 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor watches players during NFL football rookie camp Friday, May 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley throws during an NFL football rookie minicamp Friday, May 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ryan Finley, left, and linebacker Germaine Pratt walk off the field following an NFL football rookie minicamp Friday, May 10, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
CINCINNATI (AP) With the Bengals' first practice concluded, Ryan Finley walked past Andy Dalton's locker and headed to a side locker room where the rookies are relegated until the final roster cut. The two quarterbacks will be much closer once the season begins.
How close? That'll be up to Finley.
The fourth-round pick from N.C. State is competing with Jeff Driskel for the chance to be the No. 2 quarterback for now. Dalton is under contract for two more seasons, and coach Zac Taylor has declared him the unchallenged starter.
Finley started learning the offense this week and went through the first rookie minicamp practice on Friday, getting accustomed to a new setting and a new offense. Taylor liked the way Finley grasped the limited part of the offense he's been taught and made corrections on the field.
''I thought he had good command in the huddle,'' Taylor said. ''I was pleased. One time we broke the huddle, we weren't on the same page, and he got them back in there. Day 1, that's a good start for him, showing those qualities.''
Finley was nervous and floated a few throws, but otherwise was pleased with the scaled-back workout.
''I hadn't been in a setting like that in a while,'' Finley said. ''I could have thrown it better, but I think that's just the first day.''
The Bengals moved up in the fourth round to take Finley, the highest spot they've drafted a quarterback since they got Dalton in the second round in 2011. Cincinnati was one of three teams, along with Detroit and Washington, that brought him in for pre-draft visits.
Finley didn't play football until high school. His father grew up in Minnesota and played hockey, so that was Finley's main sport as a youth.
''It was something we could do together,'' Finley said. ''When I got a little bit older, I kind of played on the same teams as my dad.''
Finley played seven games at Boise State before transferring to N.C. State, where he played three seasons. As a senior, he completed 67.4 percent of his passes for 3,928 yards with 25 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
The Bengals think he'll be a good complement to Dalton, who has a similar passing style in their West Coast offense. Dalton texted Finley after he was drafted, but they hadn't yet met as of Friday. Finley has spent time watching video of Dalton to learn the offense.
''I've heard so many awesome things and just watching him on film these past couple days trying to learn the offense, I'm impressed,'' Finley said.
The main challenge for Finley is grasping a playbook that's far more complicated in how plays are described and called.
''It's very new for me,'' he said. ''Very wordy, but it's fun. It's what I like.''
Taylor won't do any 11-on-11 drills during his first rookie minicamp as Bengals head coach, putting more of an emphasis on getting players up to speed on the playbooks while undrafted rookies try to impress during individual drills.
''We're kind of in-between,'' Taylor said. ''You're not going to see any 11 on 11, but it's more than a tryout.''
HITTING THE GROUND
The Bengals practiced on their grass fields adjacent to Paul Brown Stadium, which were damp from an overnight rain. Several players slipped while running routes.
''A little slick,'' Taylor said. ''It's not ideal when it rains for your first practice.''
Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield completed 10 of his 26 passes for 72 yards and an interception in a 13-12 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Friday, Aug. 23.
Fantasy Spin: It was an ugly offensive performance for both teams, but it is worth noting that while all the pieces are in place for Mayfield to have a big season, he is still unproven compared to some other QB1 options.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers LB Deone Bucannon (knee) suffered a knee injury during a 13-12 preseason win over the Cleveland Browns Friday, Aug. 23.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers S Kentrell Brice (shoulder) suffered a shoulder injury during a 13-12 preseason win over the Cleveland Browns Friday, Aug. 23.
Cleveland Browns kicker Austin Seibert nailed all four of his field goal attempts in a 13-12 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. His long field goal went for 54 yards in the loss. The rookie kicker has made headlines for the wrong reasons this preseason due to his struggles with accuracy after Cleveland made him a fifth-round pick in the past draft. Fortunately for Seibert, his main competitor Greg Joseph hasn't been any better in the kicking game. Joseph did not get a chance to play on Friday night, presumably he will get the entire fourth preseason game to show that he is the man for the job. Whoever wins the kicker job will have some fantasy value tied to what will be an exciting offense this season.
The Cleveland Browns defense was excellent in a 13-12 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. Cleveland racked up seven sacks in the loss, with five of those sacks coming against Jameis Winston and Tampa Bay's first-string offense. The pass rush looked fierce in the contest, with offseason addition Olivier Vernon picking up two sacks on the evening. Cleveland's defense is expected to be a top-six unit in fantasy this season, making them a defense worth targeting toward the end of fantasy drafts.
Cleveland Browns tight end Demetrius Harris failed to catch any of his four targets in his team's third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. With David Njoku not playing, Harris got the start and played into the second quarter with quarterback Baker Mayfield. The veteran tight end is expected to take a secondary role this season but Harris would have some standalone value if Njoku were to suffer an injury. Harris does not need to be drafted in fantasy leagues but he would presumably be a hot waiver add should he find his way into the starting job during the season.
Cleveland Browns running back D'Ernest Johnson turned in a solid game in his team's 13-12 preseason loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. Johnson struggled on the ground, gaining just 10 yards on five carries, but he excelled in the passing game with three catches for 43 yards. The former Orlando Apollo is trying his best to make the final Cleveland roster, having gained 86 yards on 20 carries while adding six catches for 69 yards and a score. Johnson is on the radar as an extremely deep dynasty taxi squad stash going forward.
Cleveland Browns running back Kareem Hunt carried the ball five times for 11 yards in his team's third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. He also added a three-yard reception in the game. With Nick Chubb sitting out to rest, Hunt got the start and played into the second quarter in the game. The third-year running back has now totaled 17 rushing yards on seven carries across two preseason games. Hunt has to serve an eight-game suspension to open the season but he's expected to fill the passing-down role behind Chubb once he is reinstated for the second half. He should not be drafted outside of deep leagues this year.
Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson had three catches on four targets for 52 yards during the first half of the Lions preseason Week 3 matchup against the Bills. Hockenson and Stafford already seem to be clicking, making it very exciting to see how well that translates into the regular season. For now, Hockenson remains an interesting late round TE depth option in most leagues and an excellent addition to dynasty teams.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Blaine Gabbert (wrist) injured his left wrist in the preseason game on Thursday night against the Browns. Gabbert was seen on the sidelines wearing a sling, so this injury is likely pretty serious. With the regular season opener coming up quickly, it looks like Ryan Griffin will be the primary backup to starter Jameis Winston in Week 1. Stay tuned for more updates on the exact nature of Gabbert's injury. Gabbert went 4-for-5 for 33 yards before his injury.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Rashard Higgins caught three of his seven targets for 18 yards in his team's third preseason game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Friday. Higgins acted as the team's de facto No. 1 receiver with both Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry resting. He failed to break any big plays on an evening where Baker Mayfield struggled to move the ball down the field. Thanks to an Antonio Callaway four-game suspension to begin the year, Higgins has the No. 3 wide receiver role locked up to open the season. He has some low-end flex appeal in PPR leagues as he should have a few big games this season.
Detroit Lions running back Kerryon Johnson again saw a light workload during the Lions Week 3 preseason matchup against the Bills. The Lions, and Johnson, seem to be content with letting him see a few touches each preseason game to see some live action but not enough to really risk injury. Johnson had two carries for four yard and one catch for seven yards against the Bills; but ultimately, he remained healthy and looks ready for Week 1 of the regular season.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield struggled in his team's third preseason game on Friday. Mayfield completed 10-of-26 passes for 72 yards and an interception against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He played the entire first half, leading his team to just nine points on three field goals. While it was an uninspiring outing for Mayfield, it is worth noting that he was without Odell Beckham Jr, Jarvis Landry, Nick Chubb, and David Njoku. He won't play in the final preseason game next week, meaning the next time fantasy owners will see him will be the season opener against the Tennessee Titans. Mayfield can still be drafted as a QB1 in fantasy despite the poor showing on Friday.
Updating a previous report, Buffalo Bills CB Tre'Davious White (quadriceps) suffered a quadriceps contusion in the preseason game against the Detroit Lions Friday, Aug. 23.
Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford went 12/19 for 137 yards and a touchdown in his brief outing during the Lion's Week 3 preseason matchup. Even though it was a brief outing, Stafford was able to prove that he is regular season ready; he will likely remain sidelined for the Lion's final preseason game next week. Stafford is a solid QB2 option and a reasonable QB1 option in deeper leagues on weeks that present favorable matchups. Stafford has weapons to work with in 2019, it'll be interesting to see how he uses them.
Green Bay Packers RB Tra Carson is currently ahead of RB Dexter Williams for the No. 3 running back job because he has a better understanding of blitz pickup, according to head coach Matt LaFleur. 'I think just overall knowledge of knowing what to do, especially when it comes to pass protection,' LaFleur said.
Updating a previous report, Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Blaine Gabbert (shoulder) has been ruled out for the remainder of the preseason game against the Cleveland Browns with a shoulder injury Friday, Aug. 23.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Blaine Gabbert (wrist) exited the preseason game against the Cleveland Browns with a left wrist injury Friday, Aug. 23.
Green Bay Packers CB Kevin King (hamstring) was on the field running sprints prior to the preseason game against the Oakland Raiders Thursday, Aug. 22.
Buffalo Bills CB Tre'Davious White (leg) exited the preseason game against the Detroit Lions and had his right leg wrapped in ice Friday, Aug. 23.