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Week 4 Bengals vs Chiefs: Cincinnati Bengals Rookie Report

Another week, another win. A great effort on both sides of the ball and the Bengals brought the home town a victory to kick-off October. The Bengals are rolling and while the on-field impact of the rookies is probably only felt in this column every week, I'm not complaining.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals' offense looks all but invincible and the thinning AFC North is Cincinnati's division to lose. They are one of the premiere teams in the league. And yet, as we sit here on our good looking high horses, there are still some concerns. It’s a hard line to tow, being constantly critical and enjoying the moment, but if any city is ready for the challenge it’s Cincinnati. Let’s break down the continued growth of the Bengals' rookie class.


Jake Fisher – Stock Even

Thanks to Andrew Whitworth’s worthy 1-year contract extension, Fisher will continue to occasionally spell the Bengals legend and it’s not a bad thing. When the time finally does come for Whitworth to hang it up, Fisher will have first-hand experience on what it means to be a dominant tackle and a proven leader in the NFL. In another successful offensive outing, the offensive line continued to do its job at creating holes and maintaining protection. Fisher logged the same amount of snap he has been for the past few games, 11 on offense. His time this season may be brief so far, but the impact of learning from Whitworth could be career-sustaining.

Tyler Kroft – Stock Even

The Bengals are blessed with many things this season and a potent tight end in Tyler Eifert is one of them. Kroft is another player who is going to benefit from being in the shadow of someone who is performing well at their job. Kroft led the rookies in time this week and is getting close to nearly splitting snaps with Ryan Hewitt. It’s worth noting that even with a dominant tight end in the mix, Kroft has been getting more and more snaps. This shows the Bengals are high on the rookie and trust he can handle himself in this highly-powered offense.


Josh Shaw – Stock Down

Shaw only goes down in stock due to his miscue as he was charged with a block in the back that negated a 10 yard punt return by Tate in the 3rd quarter. It’s a microcosm of a bigger hole in this Bengals team that is losing yards to dumb penalties and slowing the mechanism down as a whole. Not to pick on Shaw exclusively, but penalties are becoming an issue and against a team that will take advantage where it’s given, it could cost the Bengals games. Shaw will continue to develop and could see his first snaps in a regular defensive formation if injuries become a factor down the stretch.

Derron Smith – Stock Even

Smith was also limited to the special teams unit and the first year free safety could be in the same boat as Shaw. With Iloka out this week Shawn Williams got the nod, but, depending on the duration of Iloka’s injury, Smith might see the field more regularly. The Bengals' secondary hinges on the revitalized Adam Jones and its slew of first round picks who have far from dominated this season, but are no pushovers. As the season takes its toll on players Smith needs to be ready and waiting in the trenches.

P.J. Dawson – Stock Even

Kansas City exposed what many are calling the weakest point for the unbeaten Bengals and that is the linebacking core. A consistently head scratching inability to make tackles is one thing, but routinely getting beaten on slants due to over-matched athleticism is another. One of those problems can potentially be overcome; another is a statement of, "I’m just better than you." With Vontaze Burfict still wandering the sidelines in warmup gear, the Cincinnati middle lacks a dominant presence. Dawson was highly praised by the Bengals following the draft and in the preseason. He is the highly athletic type the Bengals need to stop short passes and gifted runners. But, his lack of presence in regular formations means there might be something keeping Marvin Lewis from unleashing him.


Week four and another week of inactivity for Mario Alford, C.J. Uzomah, and Marcus Hardison. It’s getting to the point where it’s potentially out of reach for these rookies to suit up, let alone make an impact for a Bengal’s team that continues to roll, with the exception of if an injury arises. Mario Alford was touted as potential kickoff and punt return weapon with potential to slot in as an outlying receiver. But, thanks to Brandon Tate’s heroics on Sunday, he manages to stay relevant, and for good reason. Although, a banged up Adam Jones might be reason enough to think we could see Alford some Sunday soon.