The Bengals took on the Texans on Monday night in Cincinnati and the rookies for the first time all season tasted bitter defeat. It's hard to believe it took 10 weeks before the first slip up. The rookies continue to collect NFL lessons and picking yourself up after being knocked down is perhaps the most important moral anyone can learn. It's time to get back to practice, back to the film room and prepare ready for Week 11. But first, let's recap how the Bengals rookies performed in Week 10 against the Texans.
The offensive line wasn't nearly as strong as we'd seen them in the past and the Texans, to their credit, were tremendous getting through and wreaking havoc in the backfield. It's clear to see Fisher isn't ready for the premiere rushing attack as he was left out in the cold, only getting in on five offensive plays. The Bengals stacked their front with the grizzled veterans who tried their best to hold up the dam. It's obvious that Fisher will play a significant role in the future, but the writing on the wall for this season is that he's just not ready yet to shoulder the burden.
Shaw didn't play in one defensive formation last night and was limited to 16 plays on special teams. It's a growing trend that when the Bengals struggle they are going to lean on experience over youth. Tighter games like Mondays' will see less rookies on the field. Shaw has the chops to be a solid cornerback for Cincinnati in the future, but that future isn't beginning anytime this season.
The big third round tight end continues to see playing time, although against the Texans his time was very limited. That was likely due to two penalties committed early in the game on special teams. Kroft, along with the rest of the offensive line was challenged all game and was never able to get Andy Dalton and the running game in rhythm. Kroft logged a tackle and an assist in the loss on special teams, but was also to blame for a holding penalty and the penalty that negated Adam Jones' exceptional return, though the Texans' had a penalty of their own on the play which caused the down to be replayed.
The free-wheeling free safety was, you guessed it, limited in playing time last night getting in all six of his reps while on special teams, Smith, like the rest of the rookie class, is simply outclassed when it comes to this Bengal team. The veteran leadership is the reason the Bengals are where they are in the standings and in close games you better believe the coaching staff will stick with their veteran leaders. The Bengals are lucky to have so much depth across the board that no rookies are really factors on the team this season. Smith at some point could earn a role in the regular rotation, but like Shaw, that won't be this year.
Mario Alford, Marcus Hardison, C.J. Uzomah and P.J. Dawson were inactive for Monday night. For those wondering why Dawson was inactive, he was squeezed out by the return of both Vontaze Burfict and Rey Maualuga in the lineup. He's yet another victim of a strong veteran presence on the team.