This isn't the best five players or the five players that made the biggest impact in last week's game. This list is the five players that have played above normal, played a new role or have strengthened a previous weakness in their game. If we expect A.J. Green to catch five balls a game, it's going to be hard to impress us. What players impressed you this past week?
5) Brandon Tate: 3 receptions, 71 yards, TD
Tate has been almost the forgotten man in the receiver present and future. He's supposedly fast, but can he stretch the field? Can he make yards after the catch in this offense? He provided both qualities against the Browns. Andy Dalton overthrew almost every deep ball until they connected down the right sideline that was a perfect, in-stride pass for a touchdown. Tate's 71-yards lead the team.
4) Michael Johnson: 3 tackles, sack, fumble recovery, 1 TFL
It's really hard to pick anybody on defense; especially when the defensive line couldn't provide a pass rush or really stop the run. Michael Johnson on the other hand was a head ache for Pro Bowl LT Joe Thomas in the first half. Johnson ended up wearing down in the 2nd half as there is nobody to relieve him at this point for a breather.
3) Leon Hall: 7 total tackles, 2 passes defended
As Hall recovers from his Achilles injury, he's going to have his ups and downs. Last week, Hall was just a split second off and the Ravens attacked him. This week, Hall was very good in coverage and was very active in the run game. He had a personal foul vs. the Browns that shouldn't have been called because you can hit a RUNNER with your helmet. That's not a foul. Anyway, Hall seems to be returning to his reliable self.
2) Armon Binns: 5 receptions for 66 yards
Binns started the game very hot. He was routinely targeted early in the game and he caught every pass thrown his way against the Browns. He made a couple of heavily contested catches that the old 85 wouldn't have made. Binns is the number two receiver and it's nice to know he can step up as needed.
1) Adam Jones: Punt Return TD; 23 defensive snaps - 1 targeted pass (incomplete)
Pacman started this game right with an 81-yard punt return for a TD. That play sparked the Bengals and spotted them a 7-point lead that became the difference in the game. Adam Jones also played a bunch of nickel CB snaps and seemed to shut his side down as he was only targeted once. If he can play with this type of confidence for the rest of the season, it'll go a long way in helping this secondary get back on track.