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Bengals Week 7 rookie report: Mark Walton gets garbage time carries

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Nearly 25% of the Bengals’ designed runs came on the last drive of the game, and all of them were ran by the team’s fourth-round pick.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals 53-man roster has its lowest number of rookies on it all year, and only five played in their debacle against the Chiefs on Sunday night. So much more went wrong than just some underwhelming performances from members of their rookie class, but we’re always here to tell you how each did and where they can go from here. This is our rookie report from the Bengals 45-10 loss to the Chiefs.

Jessie Bates

The Patrick Mahomes show torched nearly everybody on the Bengals defense, and that very much included Bates. Mahomes’ offense orchestrated by Chiefs head coach Andy Reid picked apart the Bengals back seven, and Bates struggled to keep up with the constant vertical attack, often times being late to pick up on deep routes and having to work all over the field to make up for missed tackles in front of him.

The free safety finished with a season-high of 12 combined tackles, but only two solo tackles that can be considered “stops”. Bates also played a decent amount of snaps in the slot to compensate for the lack of Darqueze Dennard. Playing against Jameis Winston next week should be a little easier in comparison.

Sam Hubbard

There’s been plenty of talk about Carl Lawson not getting enough playing time in the past two weeks. Hubbard has played the same number of snaps as Lawson in that same time frame, and has produced even less.

Part of this was defensive tackle Adolphus Washington getting exposure in the rotation in their nickel front. It’s fair to say that the Hubbard’s ineffectiveness as a pass rusher is also part of his lack of playing time. Hubbard simply isn’t winning off the snap and getting off blocks, which has really been the story of his year aside from a few splash plays.

It’d be nice to see him involved in stunts and twists instead of occasionally dropping back in coverage. Nevertheless, Hubbard was stifled once again in both phases of the game.

Malik Jefferson

Another underwhelming performance from the Bengals’ linebacking corps, another game where Jefferson was used only for special teams. If Jefferson can’t get on the field over Hardy Nickerson, he’s probably going to be the Christian Westerman of the defense. He did notch his second tackle on special teams.

Jefferson played 17 snaps on special teams, and has averaged 16.8 snaps per game as a valuable member of the unit, which is fifth on the team.

Mark Walton

Eventually Marvin Lewis saw enough from the skill position players on offense that put up 10 points on one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 55 minutes. Outside of the offensive line, the second string offense took the field for the final drive of the game, and Walton earned 10 hard-fought yards on four carries.

Because of Walton’s usage in garbage time, his touch/snap percentage hit a season-high of 38%. When the game is at least somewhat competitive though, he’s only on the field to be a decoy in the passing game, as the team doesn’t exactly seem to trust him in pass protection any more than they don’t trust Joe Mixon to do so when Giovani Bernard is healthy. It’s difficult to see things changing for Walton while Bernard is still out.

Darius Phillips

After making his season debut last week, Phillips was officially thrust into the backup slot cornerback role behind Tony McRae. He played 15 snaps and made one tackle. He was really only targeted twice, and both ended in short completions. Phillips clicked and closed on the coverage a lot better on the first play compared to the second play.

Phillips was already a minimal contributor on special teams, but his involvement in the defense seemed to detract his time with the kick and punt teams even more as he only played three snaps there. With how well Alex Erickson is returning the kicks he can actually return, Phillips isn’t needed there.

But Erickson has nine fair catches to his six punt returns. The Bengals offense could use a boost from Phillips returning punts as a change of pace from the hesitant Erickson.

Did not play

Billy Price

Price got his walking boot removed last week and was working on the rehab field with Bernard, but didn’t get any official practice time in. We’ll find out if he’s made any substantial progress later this week.

Auden Tate isn’t listed here because he’s not on the active roster anymore. The seventh-rounder is back on the practice squad after he was cut for KeiVarae Russell and subsequently cleared waivers. When Dennard returns, hopefully after their Week 9 bye, perhaps Russell and Tate trade places once again.