For the newest members of the Cincinnati Bengals, today marks the first step in the pursuit of their NFL dreams: rookie mini-camp. All of the Bengals' most recent draft choices along with undrafted free agents will be present at Paul Brown Stadium for their first workouts as members of the Cincinnati Bengals.
Iloka, another tall, rangy safety, will compete right away with Taylor Mays and Robert Sands for time at safety opposite Reggie Nelson. Prater's road to the roster will be more difficult with the number of cornerbacks present. He'll most likely have to distinguish himself on special teams to make the final cut.
As for the other players in attendance, a couple of interesting story lines stand out.
First, as always, there will be several local products attempting to catch on with the "home town" team. Three former University of Cincinnati standouts are among those trying to earn a roster spot. Former UC quarterback Tony Pike, who was drafted two years ago by Carolina, will be attempting a comeback after sitting out last season with an elbow injury. Two of his former receivers at UC, Armon Binns and Vidal Hazelton, will also be in camp. Binns has especially drawn attention this off season after spending last season on the Bengals' practice squad. Many believe he has a good chance to stick with the team's young stable of receivers.
Then there's Vontaze Burfict. The once-projected first round pick from Arizona State slid all the way off the draft board due to concerns about on-field discipline and lack of conditioning at the NFL Combine. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis likes what he sees in Burfict, however, and the intangibles he could bring to the middle linebacker position.
”I struck a chord with him and maybe that’s what he needs. He’s got a lot of story. I don’t have to believe any of it. It doesn’t matter one way or another to me now. What he does now from this point forward is going to determine whether or not he can be a NFL player. I think he has some ability. When you watch the tape there are a lot of things he didn’t do very well. But he does some things I can’t coach that he can do.“We will continue to get him in shape. He’s a better conditioned athlete now than he was at the combine and at ASU in March. If he continues to go down that path, he seems bright enough to learn. He seems willing to want change this image people have of him.”