The Bengals’ first preseason game is in the books and we’re looking ahead to their excursion in Detroit this week. As a Bengals fan, when you think the Detroit Lions, you probably think about the two players that the Bengals lost to the Lions in free agency this year, Marvin Jones and Wallace Gilberry. You also might think about the fact that the Bengals are undefeated against the Lions since 1992 in regular season play.
Recent games between the teams, as well as the final score of this one, won’t really matter much tomorrow. As a preseason game, the focus will generally be on getting the starters a bit of warmup before handing the game over to the backup and reserve players to see who wants a roster spot most. Going into tomorrow’s game, these will be the best matchups to keep an eye on:
LDE Wallace Gilberry vs RT Jake Fisher
Due to Cedric Ogbuehi’s toe injury, he will be unable to play against the Lions tomorrow. In his place will be Jake Fisher, who filled in for Andrew Whitworth against the Vikings. Watching Ogbuehi’s further development after struggling in the preseason opener would have been interesting. But, fate had other ideas.
Instead, it will be Fisher who will take on starting defensive end Ezekiel Ansah and then likely continue to play for a while against Gilberry. The Bengals will want the young Fisher to get as many reps in as he can, so it’s likely he’ll play for most of, if not all of, the first half of the game.
Gilberry will be hoping to perform better against his former team, the Bengals, than he did against the Steelers last week. A late strip sack last week against the Steelers from his primary competition, Quanterus Smith, might give him a little something to be nervous about.
It will be interesting in general to see Gilberry face off against the Bengals. But, with higher stakes than you’d expect from the preseason, this matchup could end up being one of the best of the game.
C Graham Glasgow vs DT Marcus Hardison
In the wake of Andrew Billings’ injury, (which is now expected to effectively end his rookie year) the battle for backup defensive tackle just got more interesting. Before his injury, it was pretty much assumed that he, Geno Atkins, and Domata Peko would secure three of the four defensive tackles spots on the team. But, now there is an extra spot for Pat Sims, Marcus Hardison, David Dean, and DeShawn Williams to fight over.
You’d have to say that Hardison is probably on the outside looking in when matched up against Pat Sims’ experience with the team and at the position. But, he also appears to be the fifth man at the position and the team could keep five defensive tackles since they have so many quality options at the position.
Graham Glasgow was selected by the Lions in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft after being heralded as one of the best center prospects in the draft class. He will likely make plenty of rookie mistakes that the second year Hardison can take advantage of. But, he also possesses the kind of anchor that can completely shut down a less powerful big man like Hardison. If Hardison can utilize his athleticism, he should be able to take advantage of the notably heavy-footed Glasgow.
WR Marvin Jones vs CB Dre Kirkpatrick
As I said before, Jones will likely not get a whole lot of playing time against the Bengals because he is such an important starter. But, he will get some playing time in the first quarter opposite the Lions’ other starting receiver, Golden Tate. I would be remiss to talk about a matchup between the Bengals and Lions without mentioning one of the Bengals’ biggest offseason losses, now in Detroit.
2015 wasn’t a great season for Bengals’ cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. Luckily, his poor play was balanced out by the Pro Bowl performance of Adam Jones. He still needs to improve in 2016 a couple of good drives against the Lions going up against his former teammate would be a great time to see that improvement in action.
Jones, on the other hand, will look to continue proving the Lions were right to spend so much money on him this offseason. Against the Steelers last week, he only managed to catch one pass before the backups went in. But, it was an impressive 16 yard grab on the Lions’ first drive of the game. More plays like that in the preseason could be big for his chances to leapfrog Tate and hold off Anquan Boldin for the No. 1 receiver spot.