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Bengals Week 14 rookie report: Darius Phillips struggles with Dre Kirkpatrick out

Every one of the Bengals’ draft picks from this year that made the final roster played in this game. Let’s examine how each one of them played.

Cincinnati Bengals v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

After getting torched by Baker Mayfield, Nick Chubb and Phillip Lindsay amongst other first-year players of late, the Bengals’ defense got a break from facing standout rookies this week.

Unfortunately, their offense had to face the likely Defensive Rookie of the Year winner, who was an important factor in the Bengals latest defeat on Sunday. Here’s how the Bengals’ rookies performed:

Billy Price

The good news for Price he didn’t have any major blunders in pass protection this week to warrant any hate the next time he goes into Kroger for some groceries. The bad news is, his false start penalty on fourth-and-seven in the third quarter is just more ammunition for his critics (seriously how do you false start as the center).

Price’s blunder there was bad, but this was a semi-decent performance all things considered. The Bengals offense ran directly behind Price for 17 of their 29 rushing attempts and were successful on 53% of those attempts.

Also, don’t heckle players in public. Just don’t.

Jessie Bates

To the surprise of no one, Chargers rookie safety Derwin James had another good game on Sunday, but Bates was decent in his own right. His most impressive feat was making this stop on a first-and-16:

The Chargers’ offense had just three scoring drives where they traveled further than 27 yards, and quarterback Philip Rivers predictably attacked the Bengals’ defense in the short and intermediate areas, leaving Bates with little opportunity to make an impact. Things shouldn’t change too much in this regard when Bates and the Bengals take on the Raiders offense orchestrated by quarterback Derek Carr and his league-worst 6.6 average intended air yards.

Sam Hubbard

For the first time since Week 11, Hubbard came in at fullback for a couple plays on the goal-line, including Joe Mixon’s one-yard touchdown.

On defense, Hubbard split reps with Jordan Willis in the rotation behind Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson and did next to nothing with his snaps. Willis, on the other hand, was credited with a couple stops in run defense, but neither made an impact in the pass rush. Hubbard at least seems to enjoy ramming into people at the goal-line, it’s just been a while since the offense was anywhere near there.

Malik Jefferson

Jefferson... played snaps on defense???

Yes. Two whole snaps.

In the middle of the third quarter, Jefferson was called onto the field when Marvin Lewis deployed a 3-3-5 personnel grouping to defend a third-and-six. Due to Hubbard losing contain of Rivers in the pocket, the Chargers converted with a gain of seven thanks to a Rivers’ throw on the run.

Two snaps is a start. Let’s work towards three next week and keep building from there, okay?

Mark Walton

17 was the number of special teams snaps this week for Walton. With Mixon so much more involved in the offense this week, there was no chance Walton was getting onto the field outside of kickoff and punts. Walton was injured during his time on special teams, on the same play that a new face made his first impression on special teams...

Davontae Harris

With A.J. Green officially on injured reserve, Harris was promoted to the active roster before the three-week designation period following his eight-week injured reserve timeframe expired. Harris dressed and played two snaps on special teams, which was enough for him to actually make an impact.

That kickoff return the Chargers had right before the half that helped them eventually get into field goal range? Harris was the one who finished the play:

Darius Phillips

This was the first game that both Harris and Phillips were active, but as the one who has already gotten some experience earlier this year, Phillips was obviously the one entrusted with defensive snaps in place for the injured Dre Kirkpatrick at cornerback. KeiVarae Russell also played a healthy amount of snaps when the Bengals were in their nickel defense, and essentially was a part of the two-man platoon with Phillips.

Unfortunately for Phillips, he was charged for his second touchdown allowed in two consecutive weeks after he got caught cheating out of his zone on the boundary.

The Chargers would come back with another touchdown on their next drive, but the defense settled down after that and kept the offense in the game. It’s possible that Russell ended up coming in the game as discipline for Phillips’ error here, but he’s shown to be better in the slot anyways.

Auden Tate

If you didn’t notice Tate coming into the game, no one blames you. He played one down as a run blocker. Surprisingly, Cody Core has strung together two decent weeks (for his standards) in a row while Tate has been warming the bench, but that’s an exception to the known reality with him. Tate still deserves more chances.

Niles Scott and Jordan Franks

Scott played a season-high 11 snaps this game and once again recorded a stop in the run game in his limited exposure. This time, it was truly the work of Geno Atkins that allowed it to happen.

As for Franks, five snaps on offense and 17 on special teams isn’t much to expand upon.

When the Bengals take on the Raiders, who are fresh off a win against the Steelers, there will be a couple of rookie vs. rookie matchups to watch. Hubbard will have opportunities to face off against left tackle Kolton Miller, who was the team’s first-round pick. Price may be faced with the task of handling both defensive tackles Maurice Hurst and P.J. Hall depending on if Hurst (ankle) actually plays this week. Both former Buckeyes will be busy regardless.