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Taking a look at the team through three preseason games

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With three preseason games in the books, I wanted to take the time to review each position (in some cases, units) as we prepare this week to play the meaningless of meaningless of preseason games, as well as upcoming roster cuts. While I'm not trying to predict the roster -- and definitely not projecting depth chart -- I didn't include every player in some scenarios, but included more than what the team is expected to take (mostly because I'm just not sure who they take, or the play is pretty even between the competition).

Quarterback - Even though Palmer has been assaulted on nearly every play (it seems), he hasn't been sharp -- likely a result of being assaulted. Twice against the Saints, Palmer nearly threw interceptions because 1) the ball was overthrown and 2) the pass was too near the middle of the field intended for a receiver sprinting down the sidelines. With the assault by the opposing pass rush, Palmer is becoming too aware of what's going on around the pocket rather than what's going on downfield. Once protection flaws are worked out, and communication issues resolved, we're confident that Palmer will be Palmer and give the Bengals their best chance to win each week.

Backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has been one of the few successful offensive players, completing 70% of his passes, with a 6.8 pass-per-attempt average and a 101.3 passer rating (all team highs). His 44 yards rushing is third on the team behind Chris Perry and Kenny Watson. Fitzpatrick's performance proves he'll be a coveted unrestricted free agent next season as a "veteran" quarterback that so many teams need.

  1. Carson Palmer
  2. Ryan Fitzpatrick
  3. Jeff Rowe

Running Back - While it's exciting to see Chris Perry back to full strength, we've been missing our primary feature back, Rudi Johnson due to another hamstring injury -- this time to the other leg. However, along with their troubles protecting their quarterbacks, the offensive line has struggled rush blocking for Perry -- mostly Eric Ghiaciuc. Since the first game, Perry's yards-per-attempt has fallen from 3.8 to 3.4. Watson's 4.7 yards-per-attempt is encouraging, but a majority of his attempts have come against second team defenses, with only one attempt the entire game against the Saints.

I think the Bengals keep Dorsey over James Johnson. Though neither have done much this preseason, Dorsey is a more explosive back while James Johnson is eligible for the team's practice squad. If the Bengals haven't cut Jeremi by now, they won't.

  1. Rudi Johnson
  2. Chris Perry
  3. Kenny Watson
  4. DeDe Dorsey
  5. Jeremi Johnson

Wide Receiver - Talk about depressing. With Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh nursing and rehabbing injuries ("supposedly", if you believe in conspiracies), the Bengals have been searching for that evasive receiver we hoped would step up. Jerome Simpson's 144 yards receiving is far above Chatman's 63 yards among the yardage leaders at wide receiver. However, passes are being dropped and receivers are not separating from defensive backs, forcing Palmer to hold onto the ball longer. One has to appreciate this bit of irony. If Chad Johnson was traded, then this unit has absolutely no hope going into the season, even though the team signed Chris Henry to help.

I think Andre Caldwell's injury hurts him big. While he's not on the field battling for a spot, the Bengals would be more inclined to keep Holt for experience and versatility on special teams. Caldwell is another player eligible for the practice squad. This is all based on the assumption when Henry returns, not when the season starts. When Henry is reinstated after the fourth game, the Bengals will need to decide whether to keep Holt or Caldwell -- and it's doubtful, no matter what other writers suggest, that the Bengals will let Henry go.

  1. Chad Johnson
  2. T.J. Houshmandzadeh
  3. Antonio Chatman
  4. Jerome Simpson
  5. Glenn Holt
  6. Andre Caldwell

Tight End - Stable as stable comes. Ben Utecht, another glowing offensive player this preseason, leads the team with 10 receptions, second with 108 yards receiving and only one of two players with a receiving touchdown through three games. Reggie Kelly is the league's best tight end blocker, taking a lot of reps in the backfield. If the Bengals keep four tight ends (which includes long snapper Brad St. Louis), then Daniel Coats makes the team.

  1. Reggie Kelly
  2. Ben Utecht
  3. Daniel Coats
  4. Brad St. Louis

Offensive Line - We've talked about their struggles, and fantasized of a Jurassic Line. Still, the running game hasn't really taken off and the quarterbacks are struggling to focus downfield rather than the pass rush -- Bengals quarterbacks have been sacked 10 times, and knocked down three times as much. I'm not sure the Bengals will keep a second center, depending on Bobbie Williams to play that role. On the other hand, you could easily replace Nate Livings with Dan Santucci with limited fall in production. Something of note: Kyle Cook took some first-team snaps against the Saints in the third quarter.

  1. Levi Jones
  2. Andrew Whitworth
  3. Eric Ghiaciuc
  4. Bobbie Williams
  5. Stacy Andrews
  6. Willie Anderson
  7. Nate Livings
  8. Scott Kooistra
  9. Anthony Collins
  10. Dan Santucci

Defensive Line - Domata Peko has impressed me this preseason against the rush. He's working the line, challenging double teams and finding ways to stuff gaps at the point of attack. Other than that, I think this unit is just down right dreadful. Fanene and Rucker appear like average ends with limited upside, while John Thornton and Jason Shirley have made a library seem like a Metallica concert. Pat Sims, before his injury, impressed me with his aggressiveness and motor-style play. Hopefully we get him back when the season starts. While Angelo Craig has made plays, I've labeled him a practice squad player until either Rucker or Fanene (even though he signed an extension this offseason) are let go. I see no scenario in the world in which Eric Henderson makes this squad -- nor did I see any scenario that the Bengals sign Chris Henry.

  1. Antwan Odom (DE)
  2. Robert Geathers (DE)
  3. Johnathan Fanene (DE)
  4. Frostee Rucker (DE)
  5. John Thornton
  6. Domata Peko
  7. Jason Shirley
  8. Pat Sims
  9. Michael Myers -- I'm adding Myers here for two reasons. The team could be concerned about Shirley's upcoming court case and keeping Myers adds an insurance policy in case Pat Sims' rehabs slowly.

Linebacker - I'm actually more impressed with this unit than I thought I would be before training camp. At WILL, Keith Rivers and Brandon Johnson have combined for 28 tackles and a sack -- Rivers accounts for 17 tackles and that sack. Corey Mays has been solid at backup middle linebacker and Darryl Blackstock's two sacks leads the team. The thing I would be most concerned about is Dhani Jones' nine total tackles through three games. Ahmad Brooks had some first-team snaps at defense when Blackstock suffered a cramp against the Saints. Also expect Carl-Johan Bjork to make the team as he's exempt from the 53-man roster.

  1. Dhani Jones
  2. Keith Rivers
  3. Darryl Blackstock
  4. Rashad Jeanty
  5. Corey Mays
  6. Brandon Johnson
  7. Jim Maxwell
  8. Ahmad Brooks
  9. Anthony Hoke (?)

Secondary - For the most part, I think our starting cornerbacks have done a decent job working on an island. For the plays that you see them get beat, either a dump-truck named Calvin Johnson used his super-size advantage, or the quarterback found a hole in zone coverage. I don't like the play of our safeties -- Dexter Jackson is Dexter Jackson and Marvin White still struggles keeping the receiver in front preventing long plays. White is a hitter though, and his efforts to make sure-tackles have improved greatly since the first game.

David Jones scares the hell out of me, and I don't see much of an improvement with Castille. O'Neal has accepted his role, and done well, as the team's third cornerback giving the Bengals good depth at the position.

  1. Leon Hall (CB)
  2. Johnathan Joseph (CB)
  3. Deltha O'Neal (CB)
  4. David Jones (CB)
  5. Simeon Castille (CB)
  6. Dexter Jackson (S)
  7. Marvin White (S)
  8. Chinedum Ndukwe (S)
  9. Corey Lynch (S)
  10. Herana-Daze Jones (S) -- mostly for his special teams work.

Anyway, those are my impressions at this point. If you have more, or want to adjust my impressions because I always miss at least one player (or two) when I do these things, it's all yours.