It was an okay performance for the Bengals in their first primetime game of the year, the same could be said for the activated rookies as well. Now one-fourth of the way through their first season, here’s our rookie report for Week 4:
- Tyler Boyd
- Alex Erickson
- Clayton Fejedelem
- Nick Vigil
- Cody Core
- Jeff Driskel
- KeiVarare Russell
- Christian Westerman
Let’s be frank here, this was A.J. Green’s game. He took it over and ran with it. Right from the start, it was clear he was far and beyond the focal point of the offense and no other receiver was going to come close to matching his involvement. But, when a rookie receiver like Boyd gets his chances, he must take advantage of them. De facto starter or not. Boyd finished with one reception for 10 yards on three targets, but there was more to his game than just a stat line.
On his first target in the first quarter at the 9:04 mark, the ball was batted at the line of scrimmage forcing the ball to fall short, but looking as the replay, Boyd does a really good job of separating on the slant at the release from the slot. Boyd does his job, not getting jammed and ruining the timing of this play:
Later, just after the two-minute warning in the second quarter, the Bengals were driving. Running back Giovani Bernard caught a designed pass out of the backfield and picked up the first down, but it was called back due to a penalty on Boyd for offensive pass interference, as he engaged his assignment too early, moving the Bengals back 10 yards and eventually lead to another field goal attempt. Part of the Bengals’ woes close to the end zone include costly penalties like this and it shows.
With a little over six minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Boyd’s second target of the game was also tipped at the line of scrimmage and fell incomplete, only before Boyd had a chance at it, and he dropped it. After two failed runs at the goal line, Boyd is motioned across the formation on a third and goal and is the one and only target for the play. The ball is out quick, gets to Boyd despite the tip at the line, only to hit the ground:
On the replay angle, it’s a clearer view of how much the ball was effected from the tip:
It’s a tough catch with the defender putting himself in front of path of the ball, but if it hits your hands and falls into your lap, it has to be caught. Wobbly or not, this should have been a touchdown.
Boyd finally caught his one and only catch of the night with 11:24 in the fourth quarter. On a quick screen from the slot, Boyd converted a 3rd and 8 thanks to some great downfield blocking from tight end C.J. Uzomah and a little elusiveness from Boyd himself:
All in all, it was a decent outing for Boyd in the chances he got. Not all games are going to be like the one he had against Pittsburgh, but that’s OK. What’s important is that we see growth, whether it’s the rare rapid growth or the steady growth we’re seeing now, it’s the execution of the little things more than the context-less production. Boyd will get there.
In a rare second straight game without an Adam Jones punt return, Erickson took back three returns for a total of 22 yards. His longest went for 12 yards:
It’s been a rough month for both Erickson and Jones as neither have broken a return longer than 15 yards, and both their averages are 7.0 or less (7.0 for Erickson, 6.3 for Jones). However, there is some hope for a breakout game for Erickson or Jones, as their next opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, have given up an average of 12.8 yards per return in their 5 punts so far.
Clayton Fejedelem and Nick Vigil
The rookie special teams duo saw no time on the field with the defense as the first stringers handled things pretty easily for almost all of the game. Vigil did record a tackle on one of Jakeem Grants’ punt returns for Miami.
After avoiding a dreaded 1-3 start, the rookie class will play against their first NFC opponent in the Cowboys at AT&T Stadium next Sunday. The rookies will be looking to make an impact as the team tries to notch a winning record once again, Boyd looks to get more targets and Erickson attempts to break that aforementioned long one.