Two Bengals stars absent from start of voluntary workouts

Cincinnati Bengals wide receivers Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins were among four players not in attendance as the team completed its first voluntary organized team activity on Tuesday.

Newly signed right tackle Trent Brown and defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins also were not present for the workout.

Chase’s absence comes as a bit of a surprise as he reported for this part of the voluntary portion last year. Higgins’ absence is related to his contract dispute with the Bengals. The Bengals and Higgins were unable to come to an agreement on a long-term deal, and the team placed the franchise tag on him this offseason. Higgins has not yet signed the one-year franchise tag, so he’s not currently under contract.

Zac Taylor on Higgins, Chase

Head coach Zac Taylor was asked if he thinks Chase and Higgins’ absences will impact timing with Joe Burrow as the quarterback returns to the field following season-ending wrist surgery. Cincinnati’s sixth-year head coach doesn’t foresee it being an issue given the familiarity the two receivers have with the Bengals’ offense.

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“No, I think that they’ll get to work in at the necessary time,” Taylor said.  “We have a high turnout for voluntary workouts. I told the guys I understand it’s voluntary. I appreciate them showing up. The guys that don’t are still working hard elsewhere and they’ll be back at the right times. And the beauty is we know those guys, we know what they’re about and that they’ll be ready and focused when it’s time to come back.’

New Bengals also absent

Rankins and Brown’s absences are different in that both players are new to Cincinnati’s offensive and defensive schemes. They could benefit from being around the team during the voluntary offseason period for several reasons. Taylor remains confident in Brown and Rankins’ approaches due to the fact both players are established veterans.

The Bengals signed Rankins to a two-year contract during free agency this March. He’s expected to play a significant role in defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo’s scheme as an interior pass rusher. Brown was part of Cincinnati’s second wave of free-agent signings and is expected to start at right tackle after signing a one-year deal.

“There will be plenty of time where they’re here when they get the chance to make sure that they’re familiar with it,” Taylor said of Brown and Rankins’ absences. “They have the information, so I know that they’re staying on top of it. And when they get here and are able to get those reps, I know that those two guys are vets and they’ll be in a real good spot.”Rankins and Brown will be expected to attend the Bengals’ mandatory minicamp in mid-June, as will Chase. Higgins technically doesn’t have to report for the three-day camp because he has yet to sign his tag and is technically not under contract with the Bengals until he does so.

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