Well I'm not going to lie. Last weeks article was a little hard to write because it was hard to pick out seven things that I really liked. When a team that I hate (like the Cowboys) is beating up on the Bengals, I have a hard time being really cheerful. This week is different, though. There are more than seven things that made me jump out of my seat. So I guess, in that way, this weeks article will be just as hard to write because I'm going to have to leave things out. I'm not complaining though, it's a good problem to have. So, that being said, here are the seven things from Sundays game that made me jump out of my seat.
Point One: We Won!
I know it's only preseason but a win is a win. It may not matter in the long run but I know that I woke up happier today than I did last Monday morning. I'd be willing to bet that the players did too. Nothing can boost moral like a win. It will make practice this week a little better for the players and it will make our (the fans) daily grind a little easier as well. After a tough loss to the Cowboys and a tough week, the Bengals beating the Broncos on Sunday night started this week off on a high note.
Point Two: Jermaine Gresham Showed His Stuff
Gresham had three catches for 37 yards while running with the first team. The yards don't really impress me but what did impress me are the catches he made. One of them was in traffic between two defenders that hit him almost immediately. Gresham showed his strength by wrestling the ball away from the two defenders and got a first down. The other catch that really stood out to me showed Gresham's speed. Gresham came across the line in motion and took off when the ball was snapped. Gresham ran a skinny post like a wide receiver. After Carson Palmer got Gresham the ball, he ran with the ball for about another seven or eight yards before he was taken down. This was Gresham's only second game. Hopefully by the end of the preseason, Gresham is lighting up defenses constantly so he puts points on the board when it matters.
Point Three: Jordan Shipley is Starting to Fill a Role
It's beginning to look more and more like the Bengals are going to run with two rookie receivers in their three wide receiver sets. One of them would be Jermaine Gresham at tight end and the other would be Jordan Shipley in the slot. That is, of course, if Antonio Bryant is not playing but while Bryant is on the side lines, Shipley is on the field making a case for himself and I think his case is good. Last night, Shipley led the Bengals in receiving with five catches for 50 yards. He did a great job getting open, ran good routes and made a few defenders miss once he had the ball. Shipley also did well as a punt returner too. It looks like Shipley could end up being one of Palmer's favorite third down targets by the regular season.
Point Four: Reggie Stephens Stepped Up
When Kyle Cook went to the sidelines to talk to the trainer about his ankle and left the first team offense without their center, I was nervous as hell. I'm glad to know now that Cook's injury is no big deal and he should be just fine but I'm also really excited about Reggie Stephens. The rookie came into the game and looked like a real pro. He blocked until the whistle blew on every play and didn't miss any assignments. I don't think that Cook's job is necessarily in danger right now but Stephens could be a huge value to the Bengal as a back up.
Point Five: The Offensive Line
In the Hall of Fame game against the Cowboys, the Bengals starting offensive line didn't play too well. Palmer was sacked and pressured while he was on the field. Against the Broncos, it looked like the Bengals had a whole new offensive line. They gave Palmer plenty of time to find his receivers and opened running lanes for Cedric Benson and Bernard Scott. Because of the offensive line, the Bengals offense went from sputtering to moving the ball up and down the field and eventually into the end zone. Now, if the offense can get rid of the holding and false start penalties and get Andre Smith on the field, the Bengals offensive line could be one of the best they've ever had.
Point Six: Jerome Simpson Had the Best Game of His Life
Okay so the Best game that Simpson had ever had up to this point wasn't too great. Before last night, Simpson only had one catch for two yards. Last night Simpson had two catches for 39 yards. It seams that Simpson and Matt Jones may be fighting each other for a roster spot. Last week, Jones looked good and had a leg up. This week Simpson had the better game and considering how much time and money the Bengals have invested in Simpson, he may finally make an impact this season. It's going to continue to be an intense battle between the wide receivers for the rest of the preseason but at least Simpson is making the most of his opportunity.
Extra Point: Bernard Scott is Expanding His Role
Benson carried the ball a lot last season and when I say a lot I mean maybe a little too much. He ended up sitting out a few games because he hurt his hip and that injury could have been avoided. This season, the revitalized passing game should take some of the load off Benson. The Bengals may still be a run first offense but if the passing game is working why not use it? Another thing that could help keep Benson healthy is Bernard Scott. Against the Broncos, Scott ran the ball eight times for 65 yards and led the team on the ground. He also added 48 yards receiving on five catches. One of Scott's carries was a 48 yard carry down the sidelines before he was shoved out of bounds. With Leonard's injury, Scott may be able to fill the role of the third-down back as well as be a nice change of pace back for Benson. Either way, I expect to see Scott on the field much more this season than last season.