We saw our first look at what the Bengals could look like last week. More importantly, we saw some borderline roster players show whether or not they belonged. Luckily for them though they will have another shot this week.
We should expect to see a little more of the starters this week, but the main thing we will see still is players battling for spots on the roster, and players looking to move up the depth chart.
One of the major positions to watch is defensive end where a veteran player could be getting the boot if he doesn't produce more in these next few games. Plus we should keep our eyes on a backup quarterback who had an extremely good first showing, but can he prove that wasn't a flash in the pan?
Here are five players we'll be paying attention to as the Bengals take on the Chiefs.
It would be hard to find a Bengals who had a better game than Smith last week. He looked unstoppable at times. He didn't put up any sacks, but he put plenty of pressure on the opposing quarterback. He even almost caused a turnover on the opponents goal line.
Watching back the game, Chris Smith sure made a major roster statement Friday night #Bengals50 #Bengals #WhoDey DLineDepth pic.twitter.com/lidBUiKrrw— LA Bengal Fan (@LABengalFan) August 14, 2017
Everyone may have been watching for the Bengals' rookies Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis, but Smith easily stole the show. Even Pro Football Focus took notice of Smith's game.
RT PFF: Chris Smith was a force on the Bengals defensive line against the Bucs tonight.https://t.co/Zisz6O1Q46 pic.twitter.com/PHeCRW3hNE— Franky Fox (@franktfox) August 12, 2017
Six pressures is one way to make it really hard for a team to cut you. The Bengals took a flyer on Smith, and it is looking like it could pay off in a big way. Still, he has to show this wasn't just a one game thing.
Hopefully, he actually gets to the quarterback this week. He will probably have to chase around Patrick Mahomes since he will be playing with the second team. If he does a good job containing him, it will be another plus for Smith.
As Smith starts to show he may be deserving of a roster spot, the question has to be asked. Who's spot could he take?
The most likely answer is Johnson. Last season he struggled to get any sort of a pass rush on opposing quarterbacks, and it caused the Bengals to reconsider their pass rush entirely. Johnson still had first shot, but he did nothing to impress.
Michael Johnson spin move fail. Nice catch by Brate. This Tampa offense will be a problem pic.twitter.com/LhPmw7InIv— Billy Marshall (@BillyM_91) August 11, 2017
It just doesn't look like Johnson has that same athleticism anymore. The only thing going for Johnson is that the Bengals have trouble cutting veterans like him. However, if enough young players are just outright better than him, it won't be that hard to part ways with him.
Probably the only Bengals who had a better opening to the 2018 season than Smith was Driskel. It seems to be on Driskell to prove to the Bengals he deserves to be the third quarterback on a deep team that will likely be making some tough cuts. He did just that.
He was eight of nine for 97 yards and a passing touchdown, but he also added 34 yards on the ground as well as a highlight touchdown for the ages.
Bengals QB Jeff Driskel got two Buccaneer defenders to run into each other— YourSports (@YourSports) August 12, 2017
(Video via @nfl)pic.twitter.com/TqX5jqv6eD
I mean that was some throwback Michael Vick stuff.
There have also been some rumors about team inquiring about the availability of AJ McCarron, and if Driskel continues to play like this, maybe they may consider it. There is little chance they actually would, but it's a nice thought.
Clarke seems to be one of the odd men out in the pass rushing competition. We have been waiting for Clarke to show some production to match his potential. Last season the team tried to give Clarke a shot as one of the first pass rushers off the bench, but it didn't work out at all. He finished the season with four sacks.
He was essentially a no show last week against the Bucs. Clarke especially needs to show something after all this young talent the Bengals brought in is producing. He at least needs to show other teams there is something left to salvage if the Bengals move on.
Winston has been a solid backup for the Bengals, but it seems like his run with the team may be ending. The emergence of Trey Hopkins has made Andre Smith available as a possible backup right tackle. Winston also hasn't helped himself by not playing well this offseason. He has been consistently beaten by the young pass rushers during camp.
He is a great leader to have on the team. He is currently the NFL Players Association President, and he knows how to command the attention of players to get his point across. Still, Winston will end up being 34 during the season. He clearly has lost a lot of his ability that made him a reliable player. He will have a shot to prove me wrong against the Chiefs.