Cincinnati Bengals players received a nice gift upon arriving to the facility for training camp on Thursday. Returning players from last year's team received their AFC Championship rings, an achievement not many people saw coming this time last summer.
Here's a closer look at the ring, courtesy of Jostens.
The 2021 season was a special one for Cincinnati. The Bengals not only captured their third conference title, they also ended the franchise's 31-year drought without a playoff win. Cincinnati also made history last season when it recorded the first two road playoff wins in franchise annals.
Cincinnati is hoping to duplicate last year's magic in 2022. They have one of the league's top young quarterbacks in Joe Burrow, who led the NFL in completion percentage last year. Burrow has arguably the NFL's top receiving trios in Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd. Cincinnati's offense also has Pro Bowl running back Joe Mixon and a revamped offensive line that includes Alex Cappa, Ted Karras and La'El Collins.
Zac Taylor's team is nearly as formidable on defense. The unit is led by linemen Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard, linebacker Logan Wilson, and safety Jessie Bates III, who is currently not at camp after not receiving a new deal this offseason. The Bengals also boast one of the NFL's top kickers in Evan McPherson, who made several crucial kicks during the team's run through the AFC playoffs.
A three-time AFC champion, the Bengals have their sights set on capturing a slightly bigger ring in 2022. To do that, they'll first have to navigate through a loaded AFC that also includes the Chiefs, Bills, Raiders, Titans, and Chargers.