The Bengals starters looked solid in their dress rehearsal, nationally televised on Sunday Night Football. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the backups who allowed 23 unanswered points once the starters left the game with a 21-3 lead. Here’s a look at some of the highs and lows that we saw on Sunday night as the Bengals inch closer to crafting their 53-man roster on Saturday.
The Bengals defense dominated while on the field. The Jaguars’ first offensive drive ended rather fast when Rey Maualuga forced a fumble that was recovered by Vinny Rey. The offense took the field at the Jacksonville 22 yard line and a few plays later Giovani Bernard saw the field open up for a 19-yard catch and run. Andy Dalton actually called an audible on the play which allowed the play to work out the way it did, resulting in a touchdown. That’s one of the major things that separates Dalton from his backup, AJ McCarron, his ability to read defenses and change the call at the line.
Gio with a touchdown reception on a WR screen, giving the Bengals an early 7-0 lead. https://t.co/Wu4pEc0RwF— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) August 29, 2016
Defense on fire
The first three times the Bengals’ defense saw the field, it ended like this: Turnover, three-and-out, three-and-out. That’s about as good as it gets and Geno Atkins was a big part of that success. According to the announcers, “no one is volunteering to line up across” from Atkins, and, we couldn’t be less surprised. There will be few players who enjoy lining up across from Atkins this year.
Starting offensive line dominant
When even Russell Bodine is getting compliments, you know it’s a good night for the offensive line. Kevin Zeitler and Clint Boling were eating up defenders, paving the way for Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard to get big gains. On a night in which the right tackle position featured the third option on the team for that role, Eric Winston, we saw a commendable performance from the starting offensive line. Bernard rushed for 27 yards on three attempts while Hill yielded 21 yards and a touchdown on eight attempts. Both were taken out of the game, as well as the majority of the offensive starters, after Hill's touchdown around the 13 minute mark of the second quarter.
Young Bengals wide receivers look sharp
Brandon Tate started off the second half with a dropped pass and quickly, the young receivers took advantage of their opportunities. First, sixth round draft pick Cody Core caught a 53-yard reception and then, undrafted rookie Alex Erickson scored a 21-yard touchdown, his third touchdown of the preseason and second on offense.
Both Core and Erickson are having great preseasons and while Core is a roster lock, Erickson is proving more and more each week why he deserves a spot on the 53-man roster, too. We’re at the point where Erickson is not going to make it to the Bengals’ practice squad; he’s just too good and will get signed by another team. After his performance on Sunday night, Erickson should make the Bengals’ roster.
Backups are backups
The Bengals’ backups weren’t able to score any points and looked their part, as backups. The depth at offensive line looked shaky at best and that was impacted even further when T.J. Johnson left the game to be evaluated for a concussion.
Is there anything worse than losing three Pro Bowlers in one night? Don’t answer that. Though A.J. Green and Adam Jones’ injuries look minor, Cedric Peerman has a broken arm that will sideline him for an unspecified length of time. The fourth preseason game, which is just four days away, should see no starters playing. PLEASE.
Here’s one take on Peerman’s injury from the Chargers’ former team doctor.