With the Bengals in Detroit Friday night, taking on the Lions at Ford Field, the Bengals will feature a strong core of rookies introduced to their first NFL action during their young careers. There are 89 players on the Bengals roster, of which 21 are rookies according to Bengals.com's roster sheet. Rookie quarterback Andy Dalton will start over veteran Bruce Gradkowski, leading an offense that was only implemented this offseason by a first-time offensive coordinator in the NFL; though the comfort level in Gruden could be justified in the belief that his time in Tampa Bay under his brother Jon trained him well. But we know more when the chips are on the table.
Rookie wide receiver A.J. Green will do his part during the second-phase of the Chad Ochocinco era -- replacing the team's all-time wide receiver. Dontay Moch should see some action as a pass rushing linebacker in passing situations and maybe some work in coverage -- to at least see how he reacts. Rookie Clint Boling could take snaps at center and guard while safety Robert Sands figures to see considerable playing time once the starters have completed their work. Jay Finley will compete with John Griffin, Johnathan Williams and Cedric Peerman for what will likely be the fourth running back spot on the roster -- and the only one available. DeQuin Evans is impressing a lot of people during training camp, featured as a middle linebacker behind Rey Maualuga and Dan Skuta on the depth chart and another player I look forward to seeing.
Years past, rookies that made the team often weren't featured as major contributors during their first season. No doubt that circumstances required rookies to be a major part of an offense or defense, but for the most part that's been the exception. This year Cincinnati will feature a core of rookies that could have a major impact on this team's success during their first season - which all starts tonight.