LOS ANGELES — The Cincinnati Bengals traded in an ice storm and frigid temperature for 80-degree weather and clear skies in Los Angeles. On Wednesday afternoon, the team held its first of three Super Bowl practices at Drake Stadium, on the campus of UCLA.
After an earlier 35-minute walkthrough and break for lunch, the team took the field shortly after 1:30 for its non-padded workout and began with stretches, followed by a special teams period, individual work, team periods and then field goals to close it out.
Tight end C.J. Uzomah, still recovering from a knee injury he suffered in the first half of the Bengals’ AFC Championship win in Kansas City, participated in the team stretch, then headed to the far end of the field to work with a trainer. He was formally listed as a non-participant, as Coach Zac Taylor indicated he would be in his video conference with reporters prior to practice.
Taylor said after the workout that Uzomah looks “positive” and is expected to do more Thursday.
“Considering where he was when he fell on the turf last Sunday to where he is now, [I’m] really optimistic about how it’s going,” Taylor said. “We’ll continue to see him in action these next two days, but optimistic.”
Offensive guard Jackson Carman was limited because of a back injury. Taylor said the team is “still kind of protecting him” but he’s hopeful Carman will be able to participate more Thursday.
Receiver Stanley Morgan (hamstring), defensive end Cam Sample (groin) and defensive tackle Josh Tupou (knee) were full participants.
Taylor said the team has maintained the same practice schedule it would normally have in Cincinnati, with walkthroughs preceding practices. The team hotel is a short walk to Drake Stadium, providing a seamless, and efficient, transition from meetings to the field.
“This is like our stadium,” Taylor said. “We walk right out of our meeting rooms and we’re at the practice field, so that part has been really good and helps us keep our schedule as a normal routine.”
Taylor added that the three-hour time difference in L.A. has also benefited the team, as noted by tempo and energy of practice.
“It was really good,” he said. “The guys were really fresh and ready to go.”
If there was any necessary adjustment, it was the heat and beating sun.
“Just getting hydrated the best we can,” Taylor said.
Team president Mike Brown and executive vice president Katie Blackburn watched the practice from the track encircling the field. The Bengals also brought along its full practice squad and injured players.
Practice-squad tight end Mason Schreck and offensive tackle Riley Reiff, both on reserve lists with ankle injuries, watched practice wearing walking boots and seated in motorized scooters.
“Everybody is a piece of this, whether you were on the practice squad all year, whether you were Riley Reiff and got hurt in the San Fran game in December,” Taylor said. “They’ve all gotten us to this point, whether it shows up on the stat sheet or not, so we want to make sure everybody’s here enjoying this experience. They’re all a part of us getting here.”
The Bengals have two more workouts at Drake Stadium, on Thursday and Friday, then a walkthrough Saturday before heading to SoFi Stadium for team photos.
(Special thanks to the Pro Football Writers of America and Nicki Jhabvala of The Washington Post)