It's the NFL preseason and the Bengals hype machine is nearing an all-time high. What's helping to turn that engine is the insider access we have been receiving, courtesy of HBO's "Hard Knocks", back-to-back playoff berths and a 2-0 preseason record so far this year. To put it in cautiously optimistic terms, it's a good time to be a Bengals fan.
Now, we all know (especially with this team's history) that the high optimism for a NFL squad can quickly turn to sour grapes. Still, this 2013 Bengals team is getting a lot of respect by the media and it's a refreshing change from what we have endured in the past with this team. One of the most recent set of props thrown the Bengals' way was on Saturday night's "SportsCenter" program on ESPN.
Anchor Steve Levy was going over some of the preseason highlights with NFL analyst Mark Schlereth and when they came to the Bengals and Titans game, Schlereth wasn't shy about gushing over this year's Cincinnati squad. Here is the excerpt of their conversation.
SL: "There is a whole lot of talk about the Bengals being the team in the AFC this year. Now, my question is: is that because it is a down year in the conference, or is that how good the Bengals are going to be?"
MS: "No, I think you look at the Cincinnati Bengals right now, Steve, and they have one of the most talented rosters, both offensively and defensively in the national football league. A lot of this depends on Andy Dalton, but this roster is loaded. They've got a ton of great football players."
While going over the Saturday highlights, Schelreth also liked what he has seen out of rookie running back, Giovani Bernard.
SL: "The guy you want to talk about is running back Giovani Bernard. Second round pick, getting some first-team reps."
ML: "I'm telling you, this kid has the quickness of, I don't even know what. He is as quick as a cat, a big and strong kid that can run the ball, catch out of the backfield--he is going to be gold when it comes to looking at fantasy (football) and say 'this is a guy I have to have on my (fantasy football) team. I think he's going to get the opportunity to start for them and it makes them that much more dynamic."
SL: "Seven carries, 37 yards and the touchdown--the Bengals win. Forget the score, it's nice to get into the habit of winning games, and it's nice to see something out their young running back."
MS: "Yep. Absolutely."
Feel free to bask in the Bengals' praise and the afterglow of another win for the boys in stripes.