Training camp isn’t that far off. Players will soon be putting on pads and practicing actual football.
Before they even set foot on the field, though, there are a few players who will have an enormous amount of pressure on them going into 2018. This pressure is either related to the team relying on them to succeed or the player needing to finally take that step in their career in order to stick around.
Here are some of the Bengals facing the most pressure in the 2018 season:
Cordy Glenn, Offensive tackle
Glenn was brought over in a trade with the Bills to help protect Andy Dalton’s blindside. After the team allowed Andrew Whitworth to walk in free agency, Cincinnati failed to protect Dalton the way an NFL offensive line should be able to.
Glenn’s acquisition has been painted as the ‘we fixed our problem’ move by the Bengals. He is coming off his worst season as a pro, but that can be blamed on playing injured before being placed on injured reserve. He is now being tasked with playing at a high level next year for the offensive line to take a big step forward from last year. If he struggles, the entire 2018 campaign could be in jeopardy.
Tyler Boyd, Wide receiver
Boyd is a former second-round pick from 2016. He looked like a good pick after his solid rookie season, but he failed to take that next step last year. Overall, he caught 22 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns. Most of that came during the final two weeks of the season where he had 10 catches for 130 yards and a touchdown. He also played the third-most snaps of any Bengals receiver.
The Bengals’ 2018 success won’t depend on Boyd. The team of course has A.J. Green as their top threat, and they have also added plenty of young talent at the receiver position. Boyd needs to succeed in order to keep his spot on the depth chart and possibly even the roster for the next couple of seasons. He only has two years remaining on his rookie deal.
Cedric Ogbuehi, Offensive tackle
This is another one where the pressure is more on Ogbuehi to stay in the league. After the Bengals selected him in the first round of the 2015 draft, Ogbuehi hasn’t done anything other than disappoint. The team declined his fifth-year option, which will make him a free agent following the season. He is likely playing for a contract somewhere else as much as hoping the Bengals re-sign him.
Ogbuehi isn’t even guaranteed a starting spot along the offensive line; Glenn is the clear starter at left tackle, so he will have to compete with Jake Fisher and Bobby Hart at right tackle. Luckily, Ogbuehi has a glimmer of hope with Frank Pollack taking over the offensive line. Maybe a new coach will uncap some sort of potential.
John Ross, Wide receiver
This one really is quite obvious. After the Bengals took Ross with the ninth-overall pick last season, he failed to record a catch during his rookie year. Being a first-round pick by itself puts some pressure on you, but after last year, Ross is also fighting away that early bust label.
Andy Dalton, Quarterback
What makes the pressure on Dalton worse than in prior years is there is no real backup option behind him. AJ McCarron took off for Buffalo to possibly start there, and while McCarron was never a real threat to Dalton’s starting job, he could at least fill the role of a confident starter. Now if Dalton struggles, there really isn’t another option on the Bengals’ roster.
This is a pretty crucial year for Dalton. He is entering his eighth season in the NFL. He is learning a new system for the first time since he entered the league, and he is coming off a couple lackluster seasons. If Dalton doesn’t start performing like an above average quarterback in 2018, the team may begin to wonder if he ever can.