With the return of Bengals football comes one of our weekly features that we ran throughout last season. In case you are unfamiliar with it, the Cincy Jungle "Unsung Hero of the Week Award" is a prestigious honor that we bestow upon a Bengals player for their efforts in a game. Usually these efforts get overlooked by those put forth by more prominent players or those who made the highlight reel. Win or lose, we give this award out weekly and the player who gets honored is one whose contributions may have been overlooked in the game.
Going into the game, the headlines were dominated by Tim Tebow, injuries to four Bengals starters, and the wide receiver scrum for the team's No.2 starting position. It was a player in that receiver competition that impressed us and who we've given the nod to. It just wasn't the two that you might think in Armon Binns or Brandon Tate.
There were many suitable candidates in this game, particularly on defense. The Bengals linebackers were all over the place on Friday and helped to stifle the Jets offense to amassing six points. Dan Skuta, Vontaze Burfict, and Dontay Moch were all players that could be deemed as deserving of this award. Cedric Peerman isn't eligible for this award, as he was nominated as our game MVP.
Though they had impressive stats on the night, we've been praising them already. The player we chose has been flying under the radar for his contributions, whereas the above-mentioned players have been given quite a bit of accolades so far.
We decided to go with the player who provided the Bengals with their biggest offensive highlight on Friday. Wide receiver Marvin Jones is the winner of the Cincy Jungle "Unsung Hero of the Week Award" for the team's victory in the first week of the preseason. He led all wide receivers with 48 yards on two catches, including a highlight reel 45-yard catch where he beat the cornerback and ran after the catch. The offense sputtered after the play, but it did lead to the team blocking a punt for a touchdown shortly after.
It was a welcomed sight for Jones, who struggled in the first few days of Training Camp and has began to assert himself as a big play receiver of late. He started flashing in practice at the beginning of last week and then carried that momentum into Friday's preseason opener. It's unclear if that performance puts Jones in the same breath as Tate or Binns as competing for that starting spot opposite A.J. Green, but the team is in need of a player that can catch the deep ball.
It's widely-believed that the Bengals will keep Jones as one of their final six or seven wide receivers and Friday was a good step for Jones in cementing that belief.