The Bengals' first preseason game was full of highs and lows. In a wild contest against the Chiefs, the Bengals scored the first 10 points of the game before allowing KC to reel off 17 straight, followed by a pick-six from Dre Kirkpatrick to tie the game, but two pick-sixes thrown by Jason Campbell ultimately was the Bengals' demise. There were plenty of players though who didn't make much of an impact on the box score, but still had a significant impact game.
Pro Football Focus released their grades for this game. By their mark, Bengals defensive tackle Larry Black's performance was one of the worst by any Bengal in that game. The second-year lineman out of Indiana was abused in the run game, allowing the Chiefs to control the clock in the second-half and ultimately escape with a 2-point win.
Back after a year of rehab, I would have loved to have seen the Indiana product forcibly make his way to the top of a crowded interior line competition. That just wasn’t the case on Thursday. Black failed to earn a positive grade on any of his 12 snaps and didn’t even show enough agility to reign in Cyrus Gray on a play where he was completely unblocked (Q4, 7:54).
On the positive side, Margus Hunt was dominant to the point they floated the Michael Johnson comparison in their assessment.
Michael Johnson 2.0?
He’s stronger, faster, taller, and younger than former Bengal Michael Johnson, the only problem is he’s been playing football for about half as long. Margus Hunt was drafted in the second round last year based on pure physical ability, and even though he’s already 27, he’s still considered a project. In 2013, Hunt was a deer in headlights and finished with a -7.1 overall grade in 170 snaps. Thursday night was a completely different story. The former track and field star actually started to look like a football player. Hunt recorded an effortless sack on Tyler Bray midway through the third quarter after he knocked right tackle Jeff Linkenbach flat on his backside with one arm. The defensive end finished with a career high +2.6 overall grade in just 22 snaps.
At first sight, one would have thought that rookie cornerback Darqueze Dennard had a solid NFL debut. He picked up four tackles, one TFL, a QB hit and his first NFL sack.
Still, PFF gave him a negative grade.
Despite recording a flashy unblocked sack, first round pick Darqueze Dennard (36 snaps) struggled in all other facets of the game. The corner missed two tackles and yielded 20 yards on two of three targets for a -2.7 overall grade.
One other note what was a tad alarming:
8 of the 11 backup linemen for the Chiefs finished with positive grades (Rishaw Johnson, J’Marcus Webb, and Jeff Linkenbach only negatives) and center Eric Kush led all Chiefs with a +3.5 overall grade.
That goes back to the point on Black that the Chiefs backup lineman controlled the line of scrimmage, allowing KC to hold onto to their lead for good once they went ahead in the second quarter. Rookie Will Clarke (22 snaps), Devon Still (22 snaps), Dontay Moch (23 snaps), David King (21 snaps), Christo Bilukidi (12 snaps) and Brandon Thompson (16 snaps) all had negative run defense grades.
Still, Thompson and Clarke will be on the 53-man roster, and King, Bilukidi, King and Moch are fighting for one spot behind them. That's potentially four lineman who will play snaps in the regular season who had a negative impact in run defense against a Chiefs team whose starting offensive line has a lot of questions, and their backups aren't anything to be thrilled about.