The Cincinnati Bengals ended the preseason in thrilling fashion with a 9-6 win over the Indianapolis Colts in a game that came right down to the wire and had everyone on the edges of their seats. With the preseason now wrapped up, it's time for another edition of the good, bad and ugly.
Preseason is Over: While it's nice seeing guys fight for their NFL lives, the fourth preseason game often features many who have no shot at making a roster, and they know it. The NFL really needs to look into nixing the fourth preseason game.
Defense Shines: The good news for Cincinnati is a lot of guys they had in action Thursday night were already safely on the roster, while others still had a chance to earn their spots on the 53-man roster before it's set Saturday afternoon. Most of these guys were on defense, including Margus Hunt, Pat Sims, Josh Shaw, Derron Smith, P.J. Dawson and Will Clarke. They helped suffocate the Colts' offense and only allowed them to score six points.
P.J. Dawson: Speaking of, Dawson continued his red-hot preseason with another strong showing. He had a ridiculous five stops (tackle causing an offensive failure) to go with his first NFL sacks. If he's not playing a heavy amount of snaps by October, this coaching staff needs to have their heads examined. This kid needs to be playing early and often as a rookie.
Brandon Tate and Greg Little: Give these two vets credit; few wanted to see them make the final 53-man roster when training camp opened, but they've made too strong of a case in the preseason to not be on it. They capped it off with a big night against the Colts when the offense did little resembling offensive football. The duo combined to catch seven passes for 120 yards and looked like two players ready to lay it all on the line to lock up a roster spot.
Chris Lewis-Harris: I still don't think CLH makes the final 53-man roster, but he made about as strong of a case for a spot as he could in his final preseason game. He finished with a game-high two pass deflections to go with an interception and several other nice plays in coverage. If nothing else, Lewis-Harris' big night should help him get picked up by another team at some point this year if he's not on the Bengals' roster.
Tom Obarski: While Obarski did hit the game-winning 28-yard field goal, he also missed a chip-shot 30-yarder. That's not going to help his chances of making the practice squad. He missed a chippy vs the Giants in the first preseason game too.
AJ McCarron: To be fair to McCarron, he was playing behind a putrid offensive line for much of the night. He was brutalized in this one and frankly, could be in the 'good' section just for making it out of this game without an injury. Still, McCarron held the ball too long on several plays and had enough negative plays that PFF gave him a preseason-worst -6.3 grade.
Marquis Flowers' Injury: The Bengals didn't suffer many injuries in this one, but Flowers had a scary one when a shoulder injury forced him from the game before the Bengals quickly ruled him out for the rest of the night. He was on track to make the final roster, but if he's out for any significant amount the Bengals may opt to give him the waived/injured designation or even place him on I.R. if it's bad enough.
Keith Wenning not Playing Enough: Wenning only attempted seven passes on this night. As mentioned above, McCarron was almost murdered on Thursday night, and it was surprising that didn't help lead to Wenning getting some more run. He also needed to play more to give the Bengals a better idea of whether he should be on the practice squad.
The Offensive Line: As is the case with a lot of teams, once the third and fourth-string offensive lineman come in, the floodgates open. It's simply easier for a third/fourth-string defensive lineman to get a pass rush than it is for a lineman of the same caliber to hold a block in pass protection. That's why we saw Bengals quarterbacks on their backs for much of this night. McCarron was sacked four times and hit seven more times. Most of the guys we saw last night playing on the offensive line won't or should not be on the final roster.