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Bengals Bytes (8/28): Welcome to the NFL

Why this class of rookies is so important to the Bengals’ future. Vontaze Burfict will be appealing his five game suspension for an illegal hit. The Steelers are claiming someone tried to hurt one of their players on purpose, again.

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NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Redskins Kareem Elgazzar/Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports

Quick hits: Kids in a rush; TD Tez takes a seat; Dalton diversifies
LANDOVER, Md. - The Bengals’ young pass rushers didn’t back down in Sunday’s 23-17 pre-season loss to Washington that was typified by draft picks Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis meeting at backup quarterback Colt McCoy for Wills’ third sack of the year in the second half with a sack in every game.

Tez suspended by NFL for five games, confident of Tuesday appeal
The NFL dealt the Bengals’ Camp Tranquility a major jolt of adversity when they informed WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict last week he’s suspended for the first five games of the season for a hit on a defenseless receiver in last Saturday night’s pre-season game against the Chiefs. Burfict confirmed after the Bengals landed in Cincinnati after Sunday’s game in Washington his appeal is going to be heard Tuesday and he’s confident it will be reduced. Apparently the appeal takes place via conference call.

Bengals at Redskins Postgame Quotes
Well, it’s just disappointing that guys didn’t push it in there at the end. I thought in the first half, again, the biggest thing is that we had the fumble. The defense was able to get some sudden change work in which is good. We just have to keep going. But, a lot of positives, so we’ll watch the tape and go from there.

Cincinnati Bengals counting on rookies like Joe Mixon, John Ross
The Cincinnati Bengals may have shown a glimpse of the future at FedEx Field on Sunday afternoon. Rookie third-round pick Jordan Willis was lined up at left defensive end. Rookie fourth-round pick Carl Lawson was at right defensive end. As Lawson was blocking one Redskins lineman into Colt McCoy, Willis was shedding his own block to sneak up behind the quarterback. The ball popped out and the Bengals pounced on it for the recovery.

Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict facing five-game suspension for illegal hit
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is facing a five-game suspension for an illegal hit against Kansas City Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman this month, league sources tell ESPN. Burfict, a repeat offender, hit the running back in a defenseless posture, sources said. It is a new rule the NFL is implementing this season to protect the player who can't protect himself -- and it is going to hurt Burfict and the Bengals.

Vontaze Burfict celebrates in style as Bengals impress early versus Redskins
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict intercepted Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins, ran 62 yards for a touchdown and then jumped into the stands at FedEx Field, waving gleefully at the opposing fans. Burfict’s score summed up the start of the Bengals’ third preseason game: impressive and over the top. He wasn’t the only one who had big moments early on. For the first three drives of the game, the Bengals looked as impressive as it gets in what turned out to be a 23-17 Redskins victory.

Analysis: Washington 23, Cincinnati 17
The Bengals first string couldn’t draw up a much better afternoon to prove they are ready for the opener against Baltimore. For the first time this preseason the starters posted points and the first string defense got off the field. They both did so in impressive fashion in an eventual 23-17 Washington win.

BX: Inside the Bengals’ pro personnel decisions
For the most part, the players who will cycle through waivers are there for a reason. But it doesn’t mean the Cincinnati Bengals aren’t going to be keeping a close eye. They’ve scouted. They see roster inequities across the league. Overloads at a position. Maybe a young player they remember having a high draft grade but who has struggled early for one reason or another. Other times teams call offering a player to trade, tipping their hand that he might be expendable.

AFC North Bytes

John Harbaugh wants Ravens to finish preseason perfect
Preseason games obviously don't count in regular-season records. Just don't tell Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh that these games are meaningless. The Ravens see value in finishing another perfect preseason in Thursday's finale in New Orleans.

DeShone Kizer Named Browns Starting QB over Brock Osweiler, Cody Kessler
The Cleveland Browns announced Sunday that DeShone Kizer will be their starting quarterback in Week 1 against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sept. 10. Mary Kay Cabot of first reported that Kizer beat out Brock Osweiler and Cody Kessler. "I feel comfortable with him," head coach Hue Jackson said after the team's third preseason game Saturday, per Cabot. "He has the right feel for me and for what I'm looking for.

Martavis Bryant Says Matthias Farley Intentionally Tried to Injure Him
Martavis Bryant didn't appreciate Indianapolis Colts safety Matthias Farley's actions in Saturday's preseason game. The Pittsburgh Steelers receiver said a late hit on him was "definitely intentional," per Jeremy Fowler of "I was already on the ground. It is what it is," Bryant said. "My foot was already bent. ...[Farley] just came in and hit me."

Random Bytes

J.J. Watt Helps Hurricane Harvey Houston Flood Relief
A timeout for the Houston flood before we get to the rest of the column... The more images we see from Texas, the more harrowing Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath looks. Some around the country wonder, “What can we do?” J.J. Watt wondered, and then he did something. A local timeline of Watt’s flood relief efforts from his hotel in Dallas, where the Houston Texans are staying because they couldn’t get home after their Saturday night preseason game in New Orleans

Monday Morning Digest: The Good, the Bad and the Injured in Dress Rehearsals
This was the preseason weekend that mattered. Which means that the fields were full of players who mattered. Which means that there were a bunch of injuries that mattered. As such, this week's Monday Morning Digest breaks down the impact of Julian Edelman's ACL tear and other significant injuries around the NFL. We also trim the fat from the preseason stats (including all of the fourth-quarter tomfoolery) to determine the real Preseason Winners and Losers. Find out which potential contenders are lying in the grass and which Super Bowl hopefuls are wrapping up a preseason to forget.

Fantasy Football 2017: Updated Fantasy Football Mock Draft
One of my favorite draft tips seems like nothing more than a suggestion until disaster strikes. Every year, I tell everyone to wait to hold your draft to avoid as many preseason pitfalls as possible. You can gather more information to differentiate training camp hype and legitimate, role-solidifying performances. Most importantly, you don’t have to sweat through games and practices hoping your players stay healthy.

NFLRank 2017 - The 100 best players - Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers
Brady turned 40 this offseason, but he shows no signs of slowing down. In 2016, he posted the lowest interception rate of his career (0.5 percent), his second-highest completion percentage (67.4) and third-best yards-per-attempt figure (8.2). With the Patriots again loaded on offense, expect more of the same from Brady in 2017.