After an offseason in which the Cincinnati Bengals added speed and athleticism across the board, the biggest (and perhaps only remaining) concern for fans—and coaches—was the offensive line. On Friday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Cincinnati's first team offense didn't score (due to an Andy Dalton interception) but the unit moved the ball well (12 plays, 70 yards) thanks to a solid showing by the offensive line. And Jeremy Hill (7 carries, 26 yards) looked perhaps better than he did most of last year. He ran with decisiveness and had good burst. Hill knows he must show improvement from the last two years if he wants to hold onto his starting job with Joe Mixon eagerly waiting in the wings.
The defense, however, gave up big chunk plays to Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and company on the opening drive of the game. Fortunately, Adam Jones stood firm in the red zone, and Tampa Bay had to settle for a field goal.
The Bengals’ second teamers fared a little better offensively, with AJ McCarron and Mixon setting up the team for a 54 yard field goal in the second quarter. The training camp hype surrounding Mixon (6 carries, 32 yards) was on full display. He looked like a fast, physical, smart runner and a man who should shine in the NFL. He was breaking tackles with ease and just added more fuel to the hype train that’s already chugging.
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise was the play of Jeff Driskel (8/9, 97 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT, 148.6 passer rating). His passes had zip, but he looked even better running the ball (3 carries, 36 yards, 1 rushing TD). If some team feels the needs to trade for McCarron, Driskel might just be good enough to back up Dalton.