Following the Bengals' Week 2 preseason game against the Buccaneers, as well as the conclusion of training camp, it's time to take a look at which players and units have seen their stock rise or fall the most.
Stock Down: Jake Fisher
The Bengals don't tend to play rookies much, especially when there are experienced veterans already in place. With Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith entrenched as the starters and Eric Winston coming off the bench, missing time during camp and the preseason could lead to a rookie year spent mostly on the bench for someone like Jake Fisher.
The second-round pick out of Oregon missed his second-straight preseason game due to a shoulder injury that's cost him much of the past three weeks of action. The more time he continues to miss, the more likely he's entrenched on the bench for much of the 2015 season or even inactive on game days.
Stock Down: The Art of Blocking
Building off the above, the offensive line in general has taken a major stock hit due in large part to their horrendous showing against the Bucs. Blocking was pretty much an option for the Bengals in this game as they rarely chose to do so.
It was primarily Kevin Zeitler, Clint Boling and Russell Bodine getting abused by All-Pro tackle Gerald McCoy and not handling the stunts Tampa threw at them:
Quick eyeball on it, but looks like there may have been a couple of missed blocking assignments on the line's interior on that last sack.— Coley Harvey (@ColeyHarvey) August 25, 2015
Whether it was the starters in the beginning or the backups toward the end of the game no one could block, and that was evident on a fourth-quarter safety in which the entire line collapsed around Cedric Peerman:
Even on plays Bengals QBs didn't get sacked, they more often than not got hit:
This was quite frankly one of the worst efforts by the line as a whole I can remember seeing since 2008. This o-line has annually been one of the best in football since then, but they looked anything but on this night, and the backups looked even worse.
Stock Down: Run Defense
The Bengals run defense finished 20th in run defense in 2014, but they were going against a Bucs team tonight that finished 29th in rushing offense last year. Stopping the run was something the Bengals made it a clear goal to improve on this year, and that looked to be the case in the first preseason game against the Giants.
The starters looked like world beaters against the Giants' starting offensive line, but they got the world beaten out of them against the Bucs, who opened their Week 2 game with an 80-yard touchdown drive that came mostly on the ground. 53 of Tampa's yards on that drive came from the run game, and most of those came after poor tackling efforts by Bengals defenders.
Like the offensive line, the defensive line and front seven in general was beaten early and often throughout this game. The backups actually did better than the starters.
Guys like Rey Maualuga and Emmanuel Lamur need to be feeling some heat from younger guys like Marquis Flowers and P.J. Dawson after this game. Dawson and Flowers had good games playing with the third and fourth-stringers. Maybe it's time to give them more reps with the backups and even starters...
Stock Up: P.J. Dawson
After a good showing in training camp, third-round rookie P.J. Dawson got a lot of run against the Bucs in his second preseason game, and he did not disappoint. Dawson knifed into the backfield on several occasions to stuff the ball-carrier for no gain, highlighted by this stop on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line:
Dawson needs to be getting more playing time, especially after seeing how poorly the starting defense played in this game.
Stock Up: Chris Carter
Speaking of younger linebackers, Chris Carter continued his ascension with a big performance against the Bucs. After having a great training camp, Carter didn't do much in the Week 1 preseason game against the Giants.
That changed in a big way with the Bucs as Carter had several plays in which he either sacked or pressured the QB:
Carter finished the game with 1.5 sacks, two QB Hits and a tackle-for-loss to boot. He was a force in this game and also should be getting more run with the second-stringers and possibly even starters going forward.
That said, Carter is fighting just to make it onto the final 53-man roster. He's still done enough though to earn a little time with the starters and primary backups in the Bengals' third preseason game this Saturday against the Bears.
Carter's stock also got a bit of a boost with the unfortunate injury to Emmanuel Lamur. The Bengals have been playing Carter at defensive end and as a SAM backer, so Lamur being out next week would certainly give Carter more opportunity to show why he should be on the final roster.