With an absurd amount of Bengals players fighting the injury bug right now, a lot of players who don't normally see a lot of playing time to to get into the "dress rehearsal" game against the Packers on Thursday. While it wasn't the team's best performance of the preseason (the worst, actually), reserve players stepped up in a respectable fashion and made some plays.
Those are the types of guys that we honor with the "Unsung Hero of the Week Award" here at Cincy Jungle. It's an award given to players whose contributions were overlooked because of other performances, or maybe because the team simply lost that week. Here are the nominees and winner of the "Unsung Hero of the Week Award".
Roodrick Muckelroy stepped in admirably in relief of the injured Rey Maualuga for the second straight week. He led the team in solo tackles (as middle linebackers should) with five (six total), and added a sack. The team's passing defense was still victimized a bit, including the ever-present issue of the inability to cover a tight end, but Muckelroy made a number of nice plays. He has proved to be a versatile and valuable backup player at the position, along with Vontaze Burfict and Dan Skuta.
Dontay Moch had another active evening, recording yet another sack, giving him 3.5 of them through the first three preseason games. All have come while rushing off of the edge and he has consistently beaten his blockers with incredible speed. It's unfortunate that Moch will be missing the first four games of the season because of a suspension, but the hope is that he'll be a big contributor as a situational pass-rusher when he returns.
Mike Nugent continues to build off of his near-Pro Bowl 2011 season with a perfect preseason. Nugent knocked two field goals in for the Bengals, one from 42 yards and the other from 30. He also added an extra point giving him 7 in the game. He doesn't appear to be bothered by his uncertain contract status (he's on a one-year franchise deal) and is completely back from his knee injury from 2010. He looks to be poised for a big 2012 season, especially with the offense's red zone woes continuing this preseason.
We decided to give the award to defensive end Micah Johnson. He recorded a sack and a fumble recovery, along with two total tackles. The impressive thing about Johnson's performance on Thursday night, which really carried over from the week before against the Falcons, was that he's doing it at a new position. In the early portions of the offseason, Johnson was slated as a backup outside linebacker, but has showed his grit and versatility since.
Who gets your vote for the "Unsung Hero of the Week Award"?