Week 4 of the preseason doesn’t quite bring the same type of anticipation felt in the prior game, given the amount of disparate time the starters play, but there are still a number of players to watch. Many guys on the younger end of the age spectrum will be putting forth a final effort to propel themselves onto the final roster.
As the Cincinnati Bengals head to Indianapolis this Thursday, a number of Cincinnati’s backups will get some heavy playing time. Here are some of the matchups to watch, given the talent of the player and current roster situation in their position group.
Bengals running back Tra Carson versus Colts linebacker Jon Bostic:
Cedric Peerman just landed on Injured Reserve, so there might be a possible opening at running back behind Giovani Bernard, Jeremy Hill and Joe Mixon. That, of course, is contingent on the Bengals keeping four running backs, as they often do, as well as Carson showing some ability on special teams. The problem is, Carson got dinged up in the last preseason game, so it’s not a sure thing he plays on Thursday.
He’s been getting some significant second-half work this preseason and we will probably be seeing him earlier than the previous three games if he is able to go. Bostic appears to be a rotational player in the middle of the Colts’ defense and will be lining up against the 231-pound Carson.
Bengals linebacker Vincent Rey versus Colts tight end Erik Swoope:
Rey appears to be the first guy off of the bench in the wake of the Burfict suspension, and those who follow the Bengals have a pretty good understanding of what he brings to the table. The versatile veteran has a high football I.Q., is an amazing hustler and knows Paul Guenther’s system well, but the high-impact plays from him unfortunately come at a premium.
He might be tasked with going up against backup tight end Erik Swoope this Thursday and it’s an area the linebackers need to show they can carry the torch into the regular season, should Burfict lose his suspension appeal. Swoope is a second-year guy with towering size (6’5”, 258 pounds), to go with a basketball background at the University of Miami.
Bengals cornerback William Jackson III versus Colts wide receiver Phillip Dorsett:
Like the situation with Burfict, Jackson might be the one getting his first career start against Baltimore in Week 1 of the regular season with Adam Jones also set to serve his own one-game suspension. There have been some ups and downs with Jackson this preseason, but he appears to be getting his feet under him and getting more comfortable with the speed of the NFL.
Dorsett is a guy who has been a bit of a disappointment in his short career, but he still brings immense speed, which should be a fun matchup to watch, should Jackson slide over to cover him. It’s also a nice potential tune-up for an impending matchup against the Ravens’ speedster, Mike Wallace
Bengals linebacker P.J. Dawson versus Colts running back Marlon Mack:
Dawson has to be one of the most frustrating players the team has used a high pick on in recent memory. After taking him in the third round of 2015, Dawson has bounced on and off of the Bengals’ roster and hasn’t looked like the same playmaker we all saw at TCU. Dawson is also someone who has been injured, dealing with a wrist injury, but he needs to play on Thursday if he wants to have any chance of making the team.
If Burfict does end up missing the full term of his suspension, Dawson might have a short-term route to the final roster. Still, he will need to flash some “wow” plays on Thursday to secure his spot and Mack, a rookie, has reportedly looked solid this summer.
Bengals defensive lineman Will Clarke versus Colts offensive lineman Zach Banner:
After racking up a career-high in sacks last year with four, Clarke has been overshadowed by the great play of Chris Smith, Jordan Willis and Carl Lawson this preseason. Clarke is in a veteran battle with Wallace Gilberry to make the final roster and will need to show he can make plays from the interior of the line when asked, as well as from the outside. And, that’s if the Bengals keep five defensive ends.
Banner is listed as a tackle for the Colts, but he might get time at both tackle and guard. Clarke against Banner would be a clash of mammoths, with Banner coming in at 6’8” and 358 pounds, while Clarke stands at 6’6” and 280 pounds.