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Bengals Bytes (8/21): Cincinnati may look to lean on their defense early in the season

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The Bengals defense has been the bright spot so far as the Bengals offense gets their feet under them.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Training Camp Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NE

Drafts shaping Bengals' roster
In the wake of Saturday night’s half-full-half-empty pre-season 21-13 victory in Dallas, veteran safety George Iloka’s release in the hours after they returned looks to have significant impact on a roster that may make last year’s 53 look like an ancient ruin.

Defense hits fast forward
While the Bengals offense goes through the growing pains of a rehabilitation, the defense has just put the finishing touches on a facelift that began two years ago with the No. 1 selection of cornerback William Jackson and ended Monday with the unofficial installation of rookie Jessie Bates III as the starting safety next to Shawn Williams.

Bengals 53-man roster projections heading into preseason Week 3
The Cincinnati Bengals still have some tough choices to make despite a surprise cut.

Who Should the Bengals Resign before the Season Starts?
Bengals are sitting at over $16 million left in cap space for 2018 with the release of George Iloka on Saturday. That gives them the 10th most cap space in the NFL. That gives them room to make some deals before the season starts. Which current players could earn those extensions?

Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton giving back to Buffalo community
Months after Andy Dalton hit Tyler Boyd for a touchdown on fourth down late in a Week 17 win over Baltimore to help Buffalo advance to the 2017 postseason, the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback still gets praise from Bills fans whenever he comes across them.

Austin, Bates and Kirkpatrick discuss George Iloka's release
I discuss the Bengals’ decision to release George Iloka on today’s podcast. Plus, hear from defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick and the man who’s expected to replace Iloka in the starting lineup – Jessie Bates. Hear that and more on today’s Locked on Bengals podcast.

Random Bytes

NFL Power Rankings: Rams Overtake Top Spot in B/R's Latest Expert Consensus
The all-important (or at least as important as exhibition games get) "dress rehearsal" games are coming up this week, but already some things are sorting out across the league. Position battles are coming into focus. We're getting a feel for which rookies could be set for big things in their first seasons. And some unlucky teams have already been bitten by the injury bug.

Andrew Luck 'Sort of Happy' About Terrell Suggs' Sack to Ease His Injury Concern
"I told someone after the game, 'I'm sort of happy to get sacked by Suggs, a legit sack,'" Luck said after being sacked by Suggs in Monday night's 20-19 loss to Baltimore, via ESPN's Mike Wells. "I landed on my right elbow sort of reminiscent of how I injured my shoulder a couple of years ago [in Week 3 of the 2015 season]. I didn't feel anything. Didn't give it a second thought. That's a big deal for me, being able to lose that thought bubble."

Outside-the-Box Solutions to the Teddy Bridgewater Situation
In a perfect world, some NFL team in need of a quarterback would offer the Jets a 2019 first-round pick for Teddy Bridgewater. That team would then sign Bridgewater to an $85 million, Kirk Cousins-sized deal, and the Jets would draft a great wide receiver—upon studying their depth chart, make that a great left tackle—for Sam Darnold.

Ravens Beat Colts 20-19 in Preseason; Lamar Jackson Shows Flashes on Shaky Night
Indianapolis fell to 1-1, though Andrew Luck played in front of the home fans for the first time since the 2016 season. He and backup Jacoby Brissett (14-of-23 for 172 yards) couldn't match the combined scoring effort of Joe Flacco and Lamar Jackson, as each Ravens signal-caller threw for a touchdown.

2018 Fantasy Football: NFL Rookies You Need to Know for Your Draft
Each class is different. Talented players land in unfavorable situations, and fantasy values suffer. Less talented players wind up on teams with immediate opportunities available, boosting fantasy value. Some will start slow but play important roles during the season. A good portion will never be on the fantasy radar.