Tyler Kroft had another big game, but it could have been bigger. The Bengals dropped a game during their stay in Denver and the rookies, aside from those who play tight end seemed to barely dip their toes in the water. It's been proven all year, and Monday night's game was no exception, when the stakes are at their highest, the rookies will likely not be involved much. But, two rookies did get significant action due to an inactive starter at their position. Let's take a look at what the young Bengals did in their limited action against the Broncos.
Kroft is the exception to the rule. He was already the most successful rookie on the Bengals squad this year and with Tyler Eifert recovering from a concussion, he has been the ‘next man up'. When Ryan Hewitt went down with a knee injury on the first drive of the game, Kroft became even more important. The third round draft pick had four catches for 46 yards on six targets including a 15 yard snag. He played a whopping 97 percent of plays on offense and had a good night. But big games require big plays and despite playing well, his drop with 12:08 left in regulation negated what would have been a good chunk of yards that could have possibly sustained the Bengals' drive.
Shaw saw his time decrease yet again as the Bengals had all their cornerbacks healthy on Monday. He was able to log one tackle on defense and one and special teams, but he had limited action on defense, playing only six plays. The majority of his play was logged on special teams where he was present for 24 plays. Shaw has been a stop-gap fix all season for the Bengals and while it's clear there isn't a tremendous amount of playing time for the young back, he is still the first man up for any injury at cornerback.
Smith saw a lot of action from the sidelines only taking on one play while on defense. The majority of his time, as per usual was done on special teams. The Bengals clearly wanted their merited secondary to take the brunt of the Broncos' offense and while the rookies don't see a lot of action, their experience is something that I'm sure the Bengals will be looking to pay off in the coming years.
It's a bit shocking to me that Dawson hasn't seen more time this year, but there must be something the Bengals coaches see in and him, letting them know that he's just not ready. Described as a Vontaze Burfict clone in his scouting reports during college, Bengals fans have yet to see much of that. Dawson snagged one tackle on special teams during Monday night's contest and while there might be some more action for him come Sunday against the Ravens, don't expect much in the playoffs.
Ogbuehi and the rest of the offensive line held good protection against a tough Denver front all night and while the young tackle's time was limited to 16 plays on offense, it's good to see him getting in on the action.
Fisher, who played in his first game back after missing two games due to a concussion, saw extremely limited action on offense. One of the two plays Fisher was on offense for was a pass that was meant for him in the endzone, once again. This time, the pass didn't turn out great and he was unable to score. One day they'll get the big guy a score. He may very well be the most targeted offensive lineman in the passing game this season.
With Eifert and Hewitt out of the lineup, Uzomah was slotted in right behind Tyler Kroft, playing fullback and tight end, and saw his most snaps in a game to date. Logging 24 snaps on offense and 19 on special teams, Uzomah didn't show up much in the stat box, but did an admirable job filling in for his teammates. It will be interesting to see Uzomah's role after Eifert and Hewitt return, but he seems destined for a limited role.
Mario Alford and Marcus Hardison remained inactive for Monday night's loss and it seems inevitable they will finish the season on this list in the Bengals' final game of the regular season.