While joint summer practices typically don't involve much hype, this summer's joint practices between the Rams and Bengals will likely be an exception. Last year's Super Bowl participants will hold two practices together in Cincinnati prior to their preseason game against one another on Aug. 27. It will be the final preseason game for both teams.
This will be the Bengals' first joint practice under head coach Zac Taylor, who was an assistant on Sean McVay's coaching staff in Los Angles prior to coming to Cincinnati in 2019.
"They were open to coming out here. Probably wouldn't have done it the other way around," Taylor said of the joint practice, via the Bengals' website. "It's a coach I trust and two teams I think will work well together. A lot of these teams get paired up as the season comes to a conclusion. We were two teams left without a dance partner. We just jumped on the opportunity. …We know how they practice, they know how we practice. There are a lot of similarities."
Ironically, the joint practices will probably be more entertaining than the actual preseason game between the two teams. While his starters may get some time in the preseason game, Taylor said that they will "certainly get work in" during the joint practices. It will be interesting to see how the Bengals' rebuilt offensive line -- which includes free agent signees Alex Cappa, Ted Karras and La'el Collins -- fares against Aaron Donald and a Rams pass rush that sacked Joe Burrow seven times in February's Super Bowl.
"They've been great so far. Really taking ownership of what they need to do to understand the offense," Burrow recently said of his new teammates on the offensive line. "Coming out here and giving everything they have during the OTAs that we've having. They've been great in the weight room, in the locker room. They've been everything that we've wanted."
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The Bengals and Rams put on a show in Super Bowl LVI. The game was a back-and-forth affair that included several big plays on both sides of the ball. It also included controversy; Tee Higgins appeared to get away with illegal contact on his 75-yard touchdown catch to start the second half, while teammate Logan Wilson was the victim of a questionable holding call late in the game with the Bengals protecting a 20-16 lead. The Rams scored several plays later when quarterback Matthew Stafford hit eventual game MVP Cooper Kupp for the game-winning touchdown.
By all accounts, the Rams and Bengals strengthened their rosters this offseason. Along with the offensive line, the Bengals beefed up their secondary with the acquisitions of rookies Daxton Hill, Cam Taylor-Britt and Tycen Anderson. The Rams added youth to their offensive line with the selection of former Wisconsin standout Logan Bruss. Los Angeles' offseason signings also included former Pro Bowl receiver Allen Robinson, former Seahawks Pro Bowl linebacker Bobby Wagner and defensive back Troy Hill, who returns to the team after one season in Cleveland.
The Rams will look to become the first team since the 2003-04 Patriots to successfully defend their title. The Bengals are looking to avoid joining the list of Super Bowl runner-ups that fail to make the playoffs the following season. But before beginning their journeys in Week 1, the two teams will first take part in two joint practices that promise to be anything but the norm.
"It's crazy. It will be a good time. I'm excited about it," said Bengals defensive lineman D.J. Reader said. "I'm sure some guys will still have some things going on. That will be a good part about it. Get those things ironed out … I'm sure guys will have some juices flowing.
"I just enjoy joint practices. You get the chance to go out there and it's your first time really getting a test against somebody else not on your team. Everybody has different opinions of them. I love them. You need your guys ramped up and they get to go against somebody they're probably going against during the year."