Finally, the Cincinnati Bengals have finished the preseason. It ended mercifully with a 7-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday.
It marked the end of what’s been a forgettable four-game slate for Cincinnati, though that’s usually the case for NFL teams in the preseason. Just making it through with few injuries is the real goal, though the fourth preseason game is important for filling those final spots on a roster.
Now, here is a look at our winners and losers from the Bengals preseason finale:
The Bengals may have found a sixth-round gem in Jordan Evans. The rookie linebacker out of Oklahoma had his roster spot secure entering Thursday, but he played like a man fighting for his NFL life.
Evans was everywhere against the Colts, showing great sideline to sideline speed that had him on the ball seemingly every play for which he was on the field. He was also planted into the Colts’ backfield, racking up multiple stops in the first half.
Evans looks like someone who may very well earn playing time in the regular season, especially when Vontaze Burfict is out due to a three-game suspension.
Coming into Thursday, Jarveon Williams was someone just hoping to secure a spot on the practice squad. That was before he ran over, through and around the Colts in arguably the best game we’ve seen from a Bengals running back this preseason.
Williams gashed the Colts on power runs, outside stretches and straight dive plays with no answer from Indy. He finished with 117 rushing yards on 27 attempts and 42 receiving yards on five catches. It’s safe to say he was the only reason Cincinnati was competitive.
Williams actually made a real case for being on the final roster. I doubt he wins it over Tra Carson, but you can bet Williams is on the practice squad, at least as long as no other team signs him to their 53-man roster. He had a great audition on Thursday night.
The Bengals didn’t play their rookie draft picks much in this game, but Jordan Willis did get some nice run in the first half. He rewarded the Bengals with a sack to go with several other QB hurries. He continues to look like a rising force on the edge that should see the field frequently in 2017. At the rate Willis is going, don’t be surprised if he’s starting sooner rather than later. He also became the first player in Marvin Lewis’ tenure in Cincinnati to record a sack in all four preseason games.
No Bengal lost more on this night than Jeff Driskel. The second-year quarterback was on the verge of making the final roster as a third quarterback, which really speaks to the talent he possesses.
However, Driskel may not be back on an NFL field anytime soon. In the second quarterback of Thursday’s preseason finale, Driskel injured his thumb while bracing himself falling to the ground. He was then sent to the locker room before returning with a large cast on his hand.
Driskel almost certainly won’t be on the final roster if this injury is as bad as it looked. He could end up on Injured Reserve depending on how long he’s out.
The Bengals are holding their breath after watching their top-10 pick go down with a knee injury. It didn’t look serious when Ross was a bit gimpy after a big run in the first quarter, but after being examined by trainers on the sideline, he was sent to the locker room for further evaluation.
The Bengals later ruled out Ross, though there doesn’t appear to be any real concern over the injury. Still, this isn’t good for a player like Ross who was injury prone throughout college, not to mention he just got back from offseason shoulder surgery.