Monday Touchdown: Bengals at Lions Preseason Week 1 -- Part 2

Editor's Note: This is part two of a weekly post in which I state the seven biggest things that I noticed about the previous game. 

The Bengals took the field for the first time in the 2011 season last Friday during the first week of the preseason. The played the Lions in Detroit and, at the end of the game, were defeated. No. Not defeated. At the end of the game, they were destroyed by a score of 34-3.

It's early. That's true. And, thanks to the lockout, the team has missed about 20 practices before they took the field for the first time. Even though the scoreboard didn't show it, there were some things to be excited about. There are some things to be worried about as well.

So, without further ado, here are the seven things I think about the team's preseason opener, four through seven.

Thing I Think Four: Rey Maualuga is finally home

 

At USC, Rey Maualuga was a great middle linebacker. When he was selected stolen by the Cincinnati Bengals in second round of the 2009 NFL draft, we had our middle linebacker of the future. However, the Bengals also hadDhani Jones at the time and the team decided that Jones was the best guy to lead their defense on the field under second-year offensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. Jones played middle linebacker and Maualuga moved to the outside linebacker position, where he was obviously out of place but still successful.

Now Jones is gone and Maualuga is back where he belongs. He debuted at his new/old position against the Lions and even though the defense didn't look spectacular, far from it actually, Maualuga was obviously back where he belonged.

At outside linebacker, he was good, but never had the breakout year we thought he would have. He was out of position and likely thinking about what he needed to do next.

At middle linebacker, Maualuga can go back to playing on instinct. He has a nose to the ball and, especially in this past offseason, he came into his own as a leader. Maualuga is going to be the middle linebacker of the future for the Bengals.

Thing I Think Five: I'm not worried about Jerome Simpson

Coming into the season with A.J. Green and Jerome Simpson as the team's No. 1 and No. 2 receivers worried me a little. On one side, you have a rookie with zero NFL experience and on the other you have a guy who only had success at the very end of 2010.

If Simpson was a one-hit wonder, the Bengals offense would be in trouble.

Simpson isn't a one-hit wonder. He only two catches for 17 yards in the preseason game against the Lions but before that, in camp, Simpson has still looks as impressive as he did at the end of last season. The 2010 game against theSan Diego Chargers is going to be the beginning of a great career for Simpson as a Bengals wide receiver.

Thing I Think Six: Pick up Mike Nugent on your fantasy team

Yeah, I'm not kidding. If the Bengals have the kind of offense that can move down the field but then stalls once it reaches the red zone, and with a rookie quarterback at the helm, that might be the case, Nugent could be set up to kick a boat load of short and mid-range field goals.

He's got the leg and accuracy to make them and if he stays healthy throughout the entire season, your fantasy team could benefit from having a kicker who has to kick a lot of field goals.

Extra Point: It's early

Don't get freaked out that the Bengals will be 0-16 quite yet. Yes, they looked bad, but it's still really early. The first preseason games are designed to be like this. The Bengals will get better throughout the preseason. They might not be good enough to beat the Browns on September 11, but they won't be bad enough to lose every game.

Think of it this way, the Washington Redskins beat the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cleveland Browns beat the Green Bay Packers, the St. Louis Rams beat the Indianapolis Colts and the Carolina Panthers beat the New York Giants. If this were the regular season, those games would have been really different.

If it were the regular season, the Bengals game would have been different too.

So, don't jump off a bridge just yet. Wait until the first few weeks of the season are over.

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