After a underwhelming performance by the first-team units, the Bengals rallied from their 10-point deficit and put up 21 points to beat the Dallas Cowboys on the road.
Many key contributors to that comeback where first-year players, and it was a solid day for most of the rookies; some of whom provided the game’s best highlights.
Here’s our rookie report for the Bengals come from behind preseason victory against the Cowboys.
Did not play
Price has been nothing if not consistent in his first two professional outings. He wasn’t really challenged in pass protection by Dallas’s interior defensive line, just like he wasn’t against Chicago, but he was solid in that department regardless. He had similar warts in run blocking that we saw last week, but also had some brighter moments as well.
price’s false step pic.twitter.com/mXswXGqsl5— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) August 19, 2018
This is a play Price hasnt been making until this rep. Need it more. pic.twitter.com/GJUm6cpC0v— Ryan (@RoyleRedlegs) August 19, 2018
We’ve seen just 18 pass-blocking snaps and 29 run-blocking snaps from Price thus far. Most of them have been positive, but there are still kinks to be worked out. He was on the field for the entire first half against the Cowboys, and should be out on the field against Buffalo for the same timeframe on Sunday.
With the sudden release of starting safety George Iloka (still so weird to say out loud), no player, rookie or veteran, has seen a greater rise in their stock this week than Bates. After two games of coming in for Iloka after the defense’s first series, Bates is now the main man next to Shawn Williams in the back of the Bengals secondary.
Bates hasn’t been challenged yet in deep coverage, but he has made a few splash plays in run support. He racked up four tackles against the Cowboys, two of which were key stops towards the end of the first half. Bates also lead the defense in snaps with 40.
We’ll get to see the first start of many for Bates next week, hopefully the Bengals confidence in him will begin to be rewarded.
Cedric Ogbuehi wasn’t the only right tackle to embarrass himself on Saturday. Chaz Green of the Cowboys had a poor game manning the right edge of Dallas’ second-string offensive line, and Hubbard was a big part of that.
Great strip sack by Sam Hubbard -- recovered by Dallas. pic.twitter.com/eswAgdG5mR— Josh Kirkendall (@Josh_Kirkendall) August 19, 2018
Even though Hubbard’s handful of pressures and his sack came against a well-known poor pass protector, it’s still nice to see his promising work from training camp carry over onto the field. Hubbard only trailed fellow defensive end Jordan Willis and Bates in snaps with 36.
Find out more about Hubbard’s day in tomorrow’s Weekly Lineman.
Jefferson came on with the second-string defense at WILL linebacker, replacing starter Jordan Evans after halftime. In that unit, which doesn’t feature Evans, he rotated in and out of their nickel packages. Brandon Bell and Hardy Nickerson were the first two left out on the field, with Jefferson taking Bell’s place later on.
As expected, the injury to linebacker Vincent Rey benefitted Bell more than it did Jefferson, but Jefferson’s roster chances don’t seem to be in any danger.
No one looked worse on the box score than Walton, who finished with three rushes for -9 yards. Obviously, the rough blocking in front of him was the cause of this unfortunate stat-line, but it’s hard to get excited about Walton when he’s accumulated less than half as many yards as he’s had carries.
The early successes of Tra Carson and Brian Hill behind Walton also factor into the disappointment here, but if there’s any consolation, Walton isn’t losing his role to either of those two.
Walton was also used a lot more on special team this week, and finished with a tackle and a penalty.
Soon after the second-string defense came onto the field, Harris left the game with a knee injury and didn’t return. Harris had been taking snaps behind Dre Kirkpatrick at cornerback, and the severity of his injury is still unknown.
With the release of Iloka, it could ultimately mean six cornerbacks make the roster instead of five. But Harris has to return to the field soon if he wants to claim a spot.
Unlike Harris, Phillips provides value as a returner, and showcased that value against the Cowboys. His two kickoff returns netted a total of 72 yards, with the longer one being 44 yards. His one punt return went for 24 yards.
Darius Phillips showing his value on special teams again @4DariusP #CINvsDAL pic.twitter.com/3Czj1ZWn1S— Dadio McDuck (@dadiodefacto) August 19, 2018
Injuries aside, Phillips’ ability as a return man is what will keep him on the roster if it comes down to him or Harris. If Harris’ injury is serious, he may’ve locked up a spot already.
After much speculation regarding the team’s refusal to give him practice reps, Woodside finally practiced with the team last week and made it onto the field for nine snaps at the end of the game. He only threw three passes, and completed one of them for just four yards after replacing quarterback Matt Barkley late in the second half.
With Jeff Driskel bumping Barkley down to third-string, Barkley presumably becomes a likely roster cut unless the team carries three quarterbacks again. Woodside will likely stay behind Barkley for this week, but at least he is eligible for the practice squad.
After finishing last week’s game with a bang, Tate was a lot less noticeable against the Cowboys. He received only a single target, and was the victim of a pass interference on the play.
More importantly for Tate, he got plenty of chances on special teams after getting no reps there last week. Tate may make the roster, but for him to be active every week, he’ll have to play special teams like the player he’ll likely bump off the roster — Cody Core. Saturday was a step in the right direction for his chances.
The former Buckeye had two notable almosts. He recorded a pressure and nearly caught an interception, until he let tight end Rico Gathers moss him from behind.
Would Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie rather have his highlight INT from Saturday night’s game or this Rico Gathers catch? “Rico’s catch. That was pretty nasty. It looked like he was dunking the ball on somebody.” pic.twitter.com/6CIcJ9Ubhy— Jon Machota (@jonmachota) August 19, 2018
Okoye got extended time at nose tackle, as only Ryan Glasgow had more snaps from the interior. What was interesting is that defensive tackle Chris Baker, who is not exactly safe for the final roster, only saw nine snaps himself to Okoye’s 23.