On an overall ugly day in Dallas, the majority of the Bengals squad looked inept and dominated by a simply better team on the road. And yes, some of the rookies were a part of that mess. Here’s our rookie report for a very forgetful Week 5:
It was another modest outing for Boyd in his fifth career game, hauling in three of his five targets for a total of 33 yards. His longest reception went for 20 yards on a deep crosser with quarterback Andy Dalton scrambling to find him late in the second quarter:
His lowlight of the day was this clear drop over the middle early in the third quarter:
Through five games now, Boyd has 15 receptions for 163 yards, 23 targets, and no touchdowns. So including the Pittsburgh game, where he had six catches for 78 yards, he’s averaging three catches, 32.6 yards, 4.6 targets and 10.9 yards per catch per game. Which was almost exactly his stat-line this week. So it’s safe to say we know to expect going forward numbers-wise for Boyd. These averages project to 48 catches for about 522 yards for 16 games, of course, with no touchdowns as he has yet to find the end zone, but that will more than likely change as long as Boyd is healthy.
The bottom-line is, Boyd is still okay, and at this rate, that’s basically how his first season will look.
With wide receiver and special teamer James Wright sidelined due to injury, Core got his first crack of game-time and played special teams almost exclusively. He didn’t wait very long to get on the box score, as he assisted on the tackle during the opening kickoff. He didn’t take Wright’s place as gunner on the punt team though, as cornerbacks Darqueze Dennard and Josh Shaw handled that duty. Once the game got out of hand, Core played 13 snaps on offense as well, but received no targets.
Personally, I believe Core is at least a plausible solution to the team’s lack of speed and verticality on offense; he showed it sparsely during the preseason and when he had the chance at Ole Miss, but, naturally, it’s hard to expect him to get offensive reps unless one of the top three wideouts go down. Though, it wouldn’t be the worst idea in the world for a struggling 2-3 team to let Core see some targets.
The Erickson hype-train is officially starting to lose steam, as he had another uneventful day, returning two kickoffs out of the end zone for a total of 46 yards, failing to advance past the 20 yard line both times. Erickson also saw 10 snaps on offense, but like Core, had no balls thrown his way.
We’re all still playing the waiting game with the rookie from Wisconsin, anticipating that excitement we saw him produce back in August to emerge in the games that matter. It could re-appear at any time as long as Erickson is still back there waiting to receive kicks and punts, but for his sake, it better be sooner than later.
Clayton Fejedelem and Nick Vigil
In a terrible defensive display, Fejedelem and Vigil surprisingly didn’t see the field late in the game in relief duty, as both were limited to special teams only once again. Fejedelem is continuing his solid work as a main blocker for Huber’s punts, and Vigil got his hands on a punt, stopping it from going too far backward.
If it appears that I’m reaching for things to write about for these two, it’s because I am. Special teams life isn’t glamorous, but for backup rookies, like this duo, it’s a necessary part of life in the NFL if they want to rise up the depth chart.
This was the first time the team activated more than four rookies, and with Wright’s health in question, Core could get his second game under his belt this week in Foxborough, Massachusetts against the New England Patriots. It’s going to take everyone playing their absolute best against Tom Brady and Bill Belichick’s team, including the rookies, in whichever role they play.