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Bengals Bytes (8/29): Rush is on

The Bengals pass rush looked great again on Sunday. The Bengals’ opening drive also showed off what their offense could look like. Matthew Stafford is now the highest paid player in NFL history.

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NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Vontaze Burfict may be dirty, but the hit that got him suspended was completely legal
Vontaze Burfict is a dirty player. He has proven that on more than a few occasions. But the hit he laid on Chiefs FB Anthony Sherman, which earned the Bengals linebacker a five-game suspension, was not dirty.

Bengals best in division at slowing Antonio Brown
Apparently the Bengals were the only AFC North team to temper Steelers star receiver in Antonio Brown, according to Pro Football Focus. The Bengals held Brown to 1.28 yards per route run, much better marks than the Browns (2.11) and Ravens (2.26).

Cincinnati Bengals Walkthru: This is why you pay Vinny Rey
The Bengals’ season changed this weekend. Vontaze Burfict has been suspended five games for a hit on Kansas City running back Anthony Sherman last week. He’s currently appealing and Bengals planted their feet in the sand stating the league is wrong in their decision. This will be fascinating to watch play out. I’m not going there, here. We’ve done and will do plenty of that. Here’s where the case stands and you can debate away your feelings.

Fair question: Was hit by Cincinnati Bengals LB Vontaze Burfict legal?
In March, the NFL amended its rule book in a way that often goes unnoticed by the majority of fans and media. It added a new qualification for defenseless player protection, part of the league's larger effort to minimize the chances for injury-producing contact. Rule 12, Section 2, Article 7(a-2) grants protection to "a receiver running a pass route when the defender approaches from the side or behind." In other words, defenders would be limited in the ways they could disrupt route running on a pass play.

While Tez waits, the rush is on
While Vontaze Burfict crosses his fingers for Tuesday’s appeal, we’ll always have Paris. Paris will be always be Sunday’s four snaps on Washington’s first five third downs, when defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s nickel package looked a million bucks. Never mind the Bengals lost the third pre-season game to Senator Jay Gruden and Washington colleagues, 23-17.

Opening drive takeaway: 'We can be electrifying'
It was as if Bengals offensive coordinator Ken Zampese were firing a warning shot to the rest of the league in the second quarter of Sunday’s pre-season game in Washington. He lined up first-round pick John Ross wide left and sent him long as fast as he can down the sideline and that’s fast as the fastest player to emerge from the NFL scouting combine in recorded history.

AFC North Bytes

Steelers tight ends prepared for red-zone targets this season
With the Steelers driving inside the Indianapolis Colts' 20 in the first quarter Saturday night, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did something slightly unusual on second and third down. He didn't look for All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown. He didn't look for returning deep threat Martavis Bryant. He threw passes to Jesse James. On both downs.

If Cleveland Browns rookie DeShone Kizer is just OK, that's real progress!
In terms of physical gifts, DeShone Kizer is the best of all the Cleveland Browns quarterbacks. But he played only 25 games in two seasons at Notre Dame. Last season, Kizer was 4-8 for the Irish. He went from being the highest rated pro prospect by most NFL scouts at the start of the 2016 season -- to a guy with a huge question mark over his future when the season ended. Kizer was picked in the second round, the fourth quarterback drafted. Common sense screamed: Go slow with this guy. Especially when your team was 1-15. Besides, these are the Browns, where quarterbacks meet an early demise of their careers.

Random Bytes

Bills trade LB Reggie Ragland to Chiefs for 2019 pick
Brandon Beane's active preseason in Buffalo continued on Monday. Buffalo traded former second-round pick Reggie Ragland to the Chiefs in exchange for a 2019 fourth-round pick.

Ezekiel Elliott Reportedly to Testify on Tuesday for Suspension Appeal
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will give his testimony under oath to arbiter Harold Henderson at his appeal hearing Tuesday. The NFL suspended Elliott six games for violating the league's personal-conduct policy after he faced allegations of domestic violence.

Matthew Stafford, Lions Agree on Contract to Make QB Highest-Paid Player in NFL
The Detroit Lions announced Monday they agreed to terms with quarterback Matthew Stafford on a contract extension through the 2022 season. The five-year extension is worth $135 million, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. The deal includes a $50 million signing bonus and $92 million in guaranteed money, per ESPN's Adam Schefter.