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4 Bengals who must step up in the second half of the season

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The Bengals remain in a good situation at 5-3, but they need these Bengals to step up if they want to be competing in the postseason.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

By watching the trade deadline come and go, the Bengals have established that they are content with the team they have. That means they need to find ways to either get more from the players they have had on the field, or start playing players who can do a better job. These are just some of the players who need to step up to keep their jobs as well as the Bengals relevant:

Alex Redmond, right guard

To say Redmond shouldn’t be a starting guard is a little too bold; he has shown flashes of being a competent player. However, if the good is a few well blocked running plays, and the bad is being one of the worst pass blocking guards in all of the NFL, then it may be time to start considering a change.

It’s hard to see Redmond performing significantly better for the remainder of the season after a single week of rest, but the Bengals offense is going to let him try. With an expiring contract in the back of his mind, Redmond closing the season on high note is crucial in more ways than one.

John Ross, wide receiver

Ross’ struggles in the early part of the season have been mostly injury related. His groin injury that he suffered against the Falcons in Week 4 has been the primary culprit. He aggravated it a few weeks later against the Chiefs after missing the two games against the Dolphins and Steelers leading up to it. He may not be able to go against the Saints in Week 10, but when he does come back healthy, the team needs him to produce.

Ross only has seven catches on the season with two touchdowns, but he is a valuable distraction for opposing defenses. He helps pull coverage off of guys like Tyler Boyd and A.J. Green, but Ross still needs to be more productive. He is too fast and dynamic of a player to just be reduced to a decoy role in a receiving corp that is desperate for a play maker outside of Boyd and Green.

Preston Brown, linebacker

The Bengals are pretty thin at linebacker without Nick Vigil and Vontaze Burfict. They really need someone to step up at the position, and it is the perfect chance for Brown to prove his worth for when he goes to negotiate a contract after the season.

Brown is known for his ability to play the run, but the Bengals really need him (or any linebacker) to do something in pass coverage. Cincinnati has been getting roasted over the middle of the field, and that really can’t continue if postseason success is on this team’s mind.

Andy Dalton, quarterback

Dalton is having one of his better seasons in his eight-year career. He is tied for third in the NFL with 17 touchdown passes, but when the offense can’t sustain drives late in the game, it falls on his shoulders. Since Week 5, the Bengals offense has been inconsistent at best. With a lackluster defense, opponents will always have a chance to keep up with the Bengals offense no matter what kind of day they are having.

In terms of orchestrating late-game drives and general efficiency in the red zone, Dalton has been exceptional, and you could easily argue that the issues on offense lie with the play-calling being far too conservative when the Bengals are leading. But Dalton is the quarterback, and the responsibility falls on him to elevate the team.