This was supposed to be the year Margus Hunt finally broke out for the Bengals. With the Bengals’ lack of depth at defensive end, we were hoping the team believed with good cause that this was his time to take on a bigger role for a Bengals defense in desperate need of more defensive end to step up.
So much for that. To say Friday was a bad night for Hunt would be the equivalent of saying Hope Solo is a sore loser. Ironically, both of them probably shouldn't be with their respective teams much longer.
In his first live game action in over seven months, Hunt was easily the biggest loser of the Bengals' first preseason game. Hunt not only looked awful on this night, but he looked disinterested at times as if he didn't even care about his roster spot anymore.
He was frequently pushed back in the run game and got no push rushing the passer, the same issues he's had throughout his young career. For a guy who the Bengals were counting on to step up in 2016, in just one game, Hunt managed to not only put himself on the roster bubble, but may now be on the outside looking in.
Now entering his fourth NFL season, Hunt is on the final year of his rookie deal, which continues to look like it will be his last in Bengal stripes. That is if he even makes it to the 53-man roster.
Though Hunt has shown the potential of being a quality defensive end, injuries, playing behind veterans, and just about every other excuse to think of has led to Hunt being firmly on the roster bubble for the second-straight year.
Friday may have been the biggest step toward the Bengals cutting ties with Hunt we've seen. While he was putting up a dud of a performance, several other defensive ends had solid outings, while also making good cases for passing Hunt in the rotation.
It was night and day watching Hunt compared to Will Clarke, who looked like a man proceeded by the burning desire to be his best, whereas Hunt looked satisfied with being awful. Clarke and Hunt have been on about equal footing regarding their roles with the Bengals since 2014, but Clarke finally appears to be making the jump everyone was expecting Hunt to make.
Clarke has not only looked better in training camp, but he looked about as good as any Bengals defender did Friday night. He also did so against the Vikings first and second-team offense, enough that there's no question he should be the first end off the bench right now. Hunt played 36 snaps, 63 percent of the game but came away with 1 tackle and no other stat.
Even undrafted rookie Ryan Brown was more productive. It's just one game, but Brown already looks like he deserves to be on the roster more than Hunt.
What’s even more mind-boggling about Friday’s game was that Hunt has typically looked like an All-Pro in the preseason while going against second and third-string linemen. But this time, Hunt managed to look like a fourth-string camp body.
Frankly, I would rather bring back Dezmond Johnson or some undrafted free agent no-name and play him rather than watch another second of the Hunt I saw Friday.
What's Robert Geathers up to? I'd rather see him on one leg than continue watching what I saw from Hunt on Friday. It sure wasn't an NFL player.
For someone who's boasted of being "a grown-ass man," Hunt sure did look like a scared little boy.