With dreams of 16-0 in the rearview mirror, our Week 11 mailbag turns to answer questions about the trenches and playing time along the offensive and defensive fronts.
@ScottBantel on Monday night they kept talking about Atkins sitting snaps out....is that a normal occurrence or was there a reason?— denlinger (@dc_groupleader) November 18, 2015
That is a good question and I noticed it as well. However, every week, we keep track of the snap counts at Cincy Jungle, so I took a look at the snap counts for the last few weeks and Atkins played 70% of the defensive snaps on Monday night, which is right where he has been all year. With the return of Michael Johnson and Pat Sims, Paul Guenther has returned to the seven/eight man defensive line rotation that worked so well in 2013 with Mike Zimmer's defense. It may seem odd to have your best lineman out of the game on 30% of the defensive plays, but the rotation keeps him fresh and as a result, you get a fresh and effective Atkins for every snap he plays.
Luca, I think you echo the sentiment of a lot of Bengals fans wanting to see Jake Fisher - or any of the Bengals' 2015 draft picks for that matter - but this is a coaching staff that: 1) really trusts Eric Winston, and 2) prefers to have their rookies sit a year or so behind their veterans (see Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, etc.). Winston didn't play particularly well on Monday night, but who does look good when facing J.J. Watt? All-in-all, I think Winston has held his own in Andre Smith's absence, so I can't knock the coaching staff for starting him over Fisher, and, to be honest, as good as I think Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi will be, as the Bengals come down the stretch, I would prefer they go with a veteran tackle to fill in as needed. That being said, with Smith being a full go at practice on Thursday, I imagine Smith will play on Sunday night, rendering this a moot point.