Aug 10, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict (55) celebrates after an interception in the third quarter against the New York Jets at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
The Bengals are one of few 2011 playoff teams that have a number of roster spots up for grabs. This preseason is a key few weeks in the overall shaping of the team's final roster and Friday night's game versus the Jets was the first step in that process. Though the first preseason game is usually sloppy, there are still things to watch for during the game and it's a showcase for some players to make the final roster.
As it turns out, a handful of Bengals players took advantage of that opportunity. Though nearly every player gets limited snaps in the preseason, some "bubble" players took advantage of certain situations and circumstances on Friday and helped their roster status for at least another week.
- Jamaal Anderson: He literally didn't rack up a defensive stat in the game. What Anderson did achieve in his first Bengals game, however, was be part of a stout defense that allowed just 173 total yards and six points. Beyond that, Anderson was the benefactor of an unfortunate injury to fellow defensive end, Carlos Dunlap. It's unclear how long Dunlap will be out of commission at this point, but between that injury, as well as the one to Robert Geathers and the release of Derrick Harvey, Anderson very well could be on the opening day roster.
- Marvin Jones: What an offseason for this guy. First, he saw his draft stock fall by nearly three rounds in April when he was taken in the fifth round by the Bengals in what was widely labeled as a steal. Then, after a slow start to Training Camp, Jones began to assert himself this past week by making some big plays in practice. Luckily for both Jones and the Bengals, he carried the momentum over into Friday by becoming the game's leading receiver. He had two catches for 48 yards, thanks to a highlight-reel (if the media focused on any of the non-Jets quarterback lowlights) 45-yard catch where Jones beat his man and ran after the catch. He may still be looked at as a developmental guy, but he looks to be worth keeping.
- Dontay Moch: Finally. Bengals fans were looking for this type of game from the embattled second-year player since he arrived in the third round of the 2011 draft. He exploded with 1.5 sacks, three total tackles and a forced fumble. And, where did the majority of those plays come from? That would be when Moch was rushing off the edge in his natural position of defensive end. He still lined up as an outside linebacker, but was extremely quick and difficult to block when putting his hand on the ground. The team will likely try and find a roster spot for him when he gets back form his four-game suspension.
- Cedric Peerman: The underdog running back was arguably the most impressive player of the night. He was responsible for both of the Bengals' touchdowns in the game and earned the label of "Charlie Hustle" (no disrespect to Pete Rose). Peerman had 30 yards on seven carries and had both a rushing touchdown and a fumble recovery for one off of a punt block by Dan Skuta. Ced "I'm not Benson" Peerman is an outstanding special teams player and proved to be a valuable back in the committee system with Bernard Scott out with a hand injury. If the Bengals decide to keep four backs this year, he will make the final roster.
- Vontaze Burfict: If you didn't think that Peerman was the most impressive player of the game, then you probably thought Burfict was. What a Training Camp this guy has had. After getting a bad rap coming out of college for being a "head case", as well as playing undisciplined football, he has been the polar opposite in Cincinnati. On Friday night, not only did Burfict have an insane interception of Sir Tim Tebow, but he also had five tackles. He looked athletic and wasn't a liability in any way. Furthermore, with starting linebacker Rey Maualuga seemingly incurring a scary knee injury, Burfict seems like a guy that they have to keep.