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Jordan Willis makes a statement in Bengals’ win over Cowboys

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The Bengals need to figure out how to get Jordan Willis on the field more with the first-team defense.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Willis had an interesting night in Dallas.

The second-year defensive end has seemingly been pushing for a starting spot this year, as he flashed enough as a rookie to think he may be may be an upgrade over Michael Johnson at defensive end in 2018.

However, Johnson has done enough to maintain his starting spot through training camp and two preseason games, leaving Willis to run with the backups. Making it harder for Willis to see the field is Carl Lawson continuing to get the majority of snaps as the third end behind Johnson and Carlos Dunlap, especially on passing downs.

While Lawson absolutely needs to be playing as much a possible, it doesn’t mean Willis should be relegated to to the bench like he was Saturday. He is doing his best to remind everyone that, while he may not start, he absolutely needs to be playing more with the first-team defense.

Willis finished Saturday’s win in Dallas with two tackles, two sacks and a handful of other pressures.

Willis oddly ended up playing into the fourth quarter while third and fourth-string players were being sprinkled in, and of course, he kept making quick work of whoever was against him.

It was frankly embarrassing to see a quality player like Willis going against guys who have no shot at making a 53-man roster. One of the guys Willis went against was Dustin Stanton, who was with the Bengals in 2017 but never even made a serious run at the practice squad.

I will say Willis playing into the fourth quarter was a big reason why the Bengals were able to rally for a 21-13 win after railing 10-0 at one point, so maybe the coaches just really wanted to win this seemingly meaningless preseason game.

Whatever the reason was, Willis made the most of his extended playing time and was arguably the best player on either side this night.