When the team signed Sam Adams this off-season, I felt the Bengals run defense would improve. It's obvious when you clog the middle with a generously listed 350 pound man with the sole purpose of crushing opposing offensive linemen, things should improve. Unfortunately that presence was missed in Friday's 44-31 domination of the Buffalo Bills.
The defensive line starters have stepped up their play. Justin Smith had two sacks in the first half against Buffalo. John Thornton intercepted a botched screen pass against Washington. Domata Peko has recorded six tackles and a half a sack in each of the past two games. Robert Geathers and Bryan Robinson have shown an ability to quickly get to the quarterback. Peko and Smith both forced a fumble Friday.
Frostee Rucker and Rashad Jeanty too have impressed fans and the coaching staff. Unfortunately, Rucker didn't play Friday due to an undisclosed injury.
However, against the opposing team's feature running back, the rush defense misses the presence of a generously listed 350 pound man up the middle. On his sole run in pre-season game #1, Washington running back, Clinton Portis, ran 8-yards off the left guard. Friday, Willis McGahee ran nine times for 88-yards - and a 61 yard touchdown run.
It wasn't McGahee's 9.7 yards per rush that concerned Marvin Lewis; it was the big play. "The disappointing thing is that we gave up a couple explosive plays on defense." Dexter Jackson agreed. "That's the variable; you have to take away the big plays. If you take away (the run) and the pass play, they didn't really have too much. We have two more games left in the preseason, and we'll try to correct those mistakes. I feel like it's going our way."
Projected stock on defensive line:
- Justin Smith - starter
- Robert Geathers - starter
- Bryan Robinson - 3rd down rusher. Stock has risen since moving to defensive end.
- Frostee Rucker - Also playing defensive tackle. Missed game #2.
- Eric Henderson - recovered fumble Friday.
- John Thornton - starter
- Sam Adams - starter (projected)
- Domata Peko - great pre-season so far. Will move up if Adams misses game #3.
- Shaun Smith - serviceable backup.
- Frostee Rucker - missed game #2.
- Marcus Lewis - likely to be cut.
Also, the football bloggers ran a round-table on pre-season. It's posted at Pride of Detroit.
photo via Associated Press