July 28, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running backs coach Hue Jackson (middle) talks with tight end Orson Charles (80) and running back Rex Burkhead (33) during training camp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports
Joshua: What are two of the top training camp battles for the reserves on offense/defense?
Jason: Well, technically the starting strong safety battle is also a reserve battle. Because the Bengals drafted Shawn Williams in the third-round, he’s all but guaranteed a roster spot. But the same cannot be said for Iloka and Mays. Iloka was a fifth-rounder last year, so he’s more expendable. Mays was second-rounder by the 49ers in 2010, only to be traded for a 6th-rounder the very next year to the Bengals. Since then, he’s received minimal snaps on defense while being relegated to special teams. So of those two, if either of the finishes in third-place in the SS race, they could very well be cut.
On offense, there’s an intriguing battle brewing at both tight end and fullback, one player is involved in both battles if that makes any sense. Orson Charles was drafted in the fourth-round last year as an All-SEC tight end out of Georgia, but the coaching staff is attempting to make him a fullback/h-back. If he can make the transition to h-back, he’ll essentially be the team’s starting FB, but if he can’t he’ll be fighting reserve TE Alex Smith for a roster spot. He’s not taking snaps away from Jermaine Gresham or Tyler Eifert, so he needs to win that starting FB/h-back job.