It's preseason. Meaningless exhibitions that coaches use to largely categorize players on the team while finding chinks in the team's armor with an aim to strengthen those weaknesses. Yet there is one area that preseason games can have the greatest impact. Injuries. Within the first five minutes of the game, starting left guard Travelle Wharton was carted off with a knee injury. Rey Maualuga was helped off the field by two trainers, with a big wrap on his knee during the game. Carlos Dunlap reportedly suffered a knee sprain. Wharton appears the most serious, though Maualuga and Dunlap could miss a few preseason games. Strong safety Taylor Mays would leave later in the game with a hit to the head.
The first-team offense finally began putting pieces together during their second possession. Andy Dalton completed four of five passes for 54 yards in the final minutes of the first quarter, resulting in a stalled drive with an incomplete floater to Jermaine Gresham through the back of the endzone. During Cincinnati's lone scoring possession with the starting unit, Dalton completed passes to four different receivers, all leading to first downs including third down conversions by Andrew Hawkins and BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who lined up as an inside receiver during an empty backfield formation.
PLAY OF THE GAME
The New York Jets were trying to milk the first-half clock, punting the football with the least amount of time as possible. Bengals head coach used his remaining timeouts to stall the clock, giving Cincinnati a chance to make a big offensive play for a quick field goal at the end of the first half. Instead Dan Skuta blew up his blocker, blocking the punt, recovered by Cedric Peerman for the touchdown.
The Bengals took a 10-3 half-time lead with under 20 seconds.
NO LEADERS IN BATTLE FOR NO. 2 RECEIVER
Armon Binns and Brandon Tate entered Friday's preseason game in a dead-heat for the much-talked about No. 2 wide receiver position. Both receivers finished the game without separating themselves from the other. Nice grabs by Brandon Tate in the first half, including one acrobatic reception that converted a third down. Tate made another tremendous reception with over three minutes remaining in the first half, stretching his body to the maximum as he fell out of bounds for the incomplete pass. Though it didn't matter it was a tremendous effort.
Yet Tate really set himself apart with Armon Binns matching his competition with a nice 16-yard reception during the second possession with the second-team offense. He caught an eight-yard reception that converted a third down sustaining the drive. A Reggie Stephens holding on third-and-16 negated another 19-yard reception by Binns with under a minute remaining in the first half.
After watching the first preseason game of the year, it's not hard to understand why Marvin Lewis, Jay Gruden and Andy Dalton can't name one of those two receivers as the leading candidate for the No. 2 receiver.
A few instant reactions:
- Nice to see Bengals linebackers generating so much pressure, accounting for 4.5 quarterback sacks on Friday (Maualuga, Skuta, Lawson, Moch 1.5).
- Dan Skuta was an absolute beast, especially against the Jets scrubs later in the game. He blocked a punt, generated a quarterback sack and tied for the team lead with five tackles.
- On Cincinnati's first play of the second half, Marvin Jones dropped to his knees scooping an underthrown Bruce Gradkowski pass for a minimal three yards. Two plays later Jones smoked Jets cornerback Isaiah Trufant on a vertical route down the right sidelines, hauling in a perfectly placed Gradkowski throw, gaining 45 yards to the Jets 28-yard line.
- Impressive game by Vontaze Burfict, generating an interception and tying for the team lead with five tackles.
- BenJarvus Green-Ellis appears to be a more fluid runner than Cedric Benson. Liked the hard running by Cedric Peerman early in the third quarter.
- Awesome reception by Orson Charles, powerfully shedding a tackle in the fourth quarter, converting a third-and-six. Charles followed that up by downing the football at the six-yard line on a punt with over one minute remaining in the game. Aaron Brown also downed a punt at the three-yard line early in the game.
- Couple of nice touch passes by Bruce Gradkowski.
- Strong effort by the Bengals defensive front, especially up the middle.
What are your thoughts?