Bengals camp: Logan Wilson kicks, Jackson Carman tests positive for Covid

On a day when Mike Hilton intercepted two Joe Burrow passes within minutes of each other, the true team hero was Logan Wilson.

“Logan Wilson for president,” Hilton said after watching the linebacker/backup kicker drill a 33-yard field goal to end Thursday’s practice and shrink Friday’s.

“I’m the new Shooter,” Wilson joked, invoking the nickname of Bengals kicker Evan McPherson.

After giving his standard post-practice talk, coach Zac Taylor sent Wilson out to try to the 33-yarder with the promise of a shorter workday with no meetings Friday if Wilson converted.

“He’s been practicing for that,” Taylor said. “You never know when you’re going to need an emergency kicker. I don’t think we knew at first that he had that talent.”

Hilton knew.

“He told me,” Hilton said. “We were just talking about high school football, and he told me he was an all-state kicker, and I was like, ‘All right, that’s not bad.’”

Wilson was named first team all-state in Wyoming his sophomore year. He said his farthest kick in a game was 53, but he hit from 60 in practice.

“Back in my prime,” he joked. “I’m not in my prime anymore.”

McPherson might not be in his prime yet, but he’s already one of the league’s top kickers after turning in one of the greatest rookie seasons in league history. He had plenty of praise for Wilson’s form, and some slight criticism.

“He actually hit that one pretty good, and he hit a 50 (yarder) last week,” McPherson said. “But I will say he uses his toe a lot, which is probably from not kicking in a while. He’s actually not bad. He’s pretty good.”

Wilson offered his own assessment.

“My ball flight wasn’t the best, but what it did do was go between the uprights,” he said.

And what if he had missed?

“He would’ve gotten a couple more attempts,” Taylor said. “As many as it took.”

Wilson wasn’t aware of any built-in buffer.

“I just wanted to hit the first one, knock it out of the park,” he said.

As much fun as everyone was having with Wilson’s kick, there was a serious element to it. Most teams carry only one kicker and one long snapper, and even if they have more, they’re certainly only dressing one of each on game days. If there’s an injury in the game, that’s not the time to start soliciting volunteers to handle the backup specialist duties.

And while it would seem to be a logical choice for the punter to handle kicks in an emergency, the punter, whether it be Kevin Huber or Drue Chrisman, will be responsible for the holding duties, ruling them out as a kicker.

Wilson didn’t clinch the backup kicker job Thursday, but he put himself in the mix.

“He’s an option,” Taylor said. “Just like a third quarterback, there’s a lot of things you have to (have a) plan in place for. You can’t invest time in it every day. You just have to pick your moments when you get guys reps, and you never know. We always have guys practicing long snaps in walkthroughs the day before the game. You pick your time you invest the reps into (it). It’s a contingency plan, and you have to ready for it.”

Wilson’s kick came two days shy of the 13-year anniversary of the last time the Bengals had to use a position player as an emergency kicker. On Aug. 20, 2009, wide receiver Chad Johnson’s PAT accounted for the winning margin in a 7-6 preseason victory against Tom Brady and the Patriots in Foxboro, after kicker Shayne Graham pulled a hamstring in pregame warmups.

Asked if he would consider letting Wilson attempt a kick in a preseason game, Taylor didn’t say no. But he also didn’t sound as though it would be an idea he’d entertain just for the sake of it.

“He hasn’t suited up yet for a game,” Taylor said. “I would not suit him up just to kick.”

Carman out with Covid

Offensive lineman Jackson Carman’s week just keeps getting worse. After a dismal performance in Friday’s season opener, an elbow tweak that forced him to miss a practice and a demotion and reduction in reps in practice, Carman was not at practice or anywhere near the facility Thursday.

Taylor said after practice that Carman had tested positive for Covid, which means he’ll be out for five days or until he can produce two negative tests on consecutive days. That almost certainly rules him out for Sunday’s preseason game against the Giants and could jeopardize any participation in the joint practices with the Rams next week

It’s just the latest sign pointing toward rookie Cordell Volson winning the job. The Bengals were already planning on starting Volson against the Giants after not playing him until the second half in the preseason opener against the Cardinals.

Sunday will be a big test for Volson. After playing against guys who probably won’t make the Arizona roster, he’ll be facing some Giants starters for at least a few series. And new Giants defensive coordinator Wink Martindale drew the ire of the Patriots last week for how much he blitzed in a preseason game. That’s the same Martindale who was still sending zero blitzes at Burrow as a rookie late in a 24-0 game.

So Volson’s technique, strength, knowledge of the scheme and ability to recognize and adjust all will be tested Sunday night.

Right tackle La’el Collins returned after missing Wednesday due to personal reasons. He did not expand on what those reasons were but said everything is good. Collins was suited up for practice Thursday and continued to be limited. He’s yet to appear in any 11-on-11 work.

“I’m getting closer,” he said.

Isaiah Prince was back taking first-team reps at right tackle Thursday after watching Hakeem Adeniji handle that role the last few practices. But Prince left practice holding his left wrist and was carted inside for tests.

D’Ante Smith returned to practice Wednesday after missing a little more than a week with a back issue, and it’s unclear if he’ll be ready to face live action in New York.

Asked how troubling it is to have all these injuries and moving pieces on the offensive line, Taylor simply shrugged and said, “dealt with it for four years, so it’s nothing new.”

Hilton’s heroics

In Wednesday’s practice, the Bengals sent a zero blitz at Burrow, and the quarterback burned them with a long touchdown pass to Tyler Boyd, beating Hilton. On Thursday, defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo zero-blitzed Burrow again, and this time he overthrew Boyd, resulting in an easy interception for Hilton.

“We’re counting on the rush to put the pressure on him and have him throw it over the top,” Hilton said. “Yesterday on zero blitz, TB got me on the big post route. We came back today and Joe overthrew him and I made a play. Our pressure got back there a little faster and made Joe uncomfortable and made him get rid of it earlier.”

A few plays earlier, Hilton got his right hand between receiver Tee Higgins and a Burrow pass, resulting in a deflection before he snared the ball out of the air for an interception.

“I saw it go up, but then as Tyler was crossing my face, I just turned around and saw it coming down and had to make the play,” Hilton said

It was one of four interceptions on the day by the Bengals defense, with Brandon Allen and Jake Browning each throwing one. Jalen Davis’ pick came on the final play of practice, and earlier in the session undrafted rookie Allan George got one.

But Hilton’s two against Burrow were the highlight, and the cornerback said he plans to let Burrow hear about it as soon as he got back in the locker room.

“Knowing Joe, he’s gonna be cool, calm, collected about it,” Hilton said. “But I know tomorrow he’s definitely going to come with a little fire.”

(Photo of Logan Wilson: Kareem Elgazzar/USA Today)


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