What a difference a week makes.
Two Thursdays ago, the Bengals hosted the Colts for their preseason finale, and every healthy rookie on the roster got playing time. On Sunday, nearly half the Bengals inactives list was composed of the rookies who made the team.
This may be an inclination of what’s to come this season if the Bengals remain healthy (fingers crossed), but most of the rookies who did make their debut were heavily relied on in a comeback victory on the road.
Here’s our rookie report for the Bengals Week 1 victory against the Colts.
Did not play
The regular season debut for Price could’ve started a little better than it did. On the first passing play of the Bengals offense, Price was walked back and then ran over three yards deep into the pocket by nose tackle Al Woods.
The pressure he allowed forced an errant throw from quarterback Andy Dalton, which became an interception that was nearly returned for a touchdown.
Welcome to the NFL.
Price mostly avoided miscues throughout the rest of the game, as the run blocking from the Bengals offensive line was solid, but noticeably struggled when attacking the right edge. Price’s struggles with reach blocks and excellence in space came up like they did all preseason.
Redmond (62, RG) is known for being a power run blocker, but he looked comfortable moving in space today. Part of that weight he has dropped since last year.— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) September 10, 2018
This ability should eventually result in longer runs. pic.twitter.com/rhEewGaTQV
Well executed run block. Boling cuts his guy, Hart and Uzomah clear out the right side, Redmond and Price get the job done in space. pic.twitter.com/N7iwlNq7AI— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) September 10, 2018
If we’re treating this like a stock report, Price’s performance hasn’t really moved the needle for him. He stays playing at the tune of his strengths and weaknesses, and everything will be tested in a few days against a much better defensive interior that the Ravens deploy.
Playing 82 snaps to begin your career is a tall task, but Bates handled it well, especially with his running mate Shawn Williams ejected from the game in the first quarter. Bates finished with eight tackles, with only one of them coming as a defensive “stop”:
The Bengals defense was on the field for a long time in the first half, as the offense had some stalls that led to the defense getting tired out. Most of the damage quarterback Andrew Luck did was on short passes over the middle, and Bates’ coverage wasn’t as tested as his ability to make open-field tackles coming downhill. He looked pretty good back there, all things considered.
Despite the defense’s long day, Hubbard was called upon for only 8.5% of the defense’s snaps, a stark difference to Carl Lawson (51%) and Jordan Willis (39.5%). But he was the only player to play on both the offense and defense:
Sam Hubbard leads the way and Joe Mixon ties the game. Randy Bullocks extra point makes it 24-23 Bengals pic.twitter.com/qXfh20lwaC— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) September 9, 2018
Hubbard is no Domata Peko, but he did play tight end at Cincinnati’s Moeller High School when he was about 90 pounds lighter than he is now. The Bengals had all four of their tight ends active for this game, and they figure to use some of them at h-back now that Ryan Hewitt is gone and Cethan Carter is on injured reserve. But this time, it was Hubbard who was called upon to be a battering ram.
Seven snaps should be the lowest amount of snaps Hubbard gets all year, as he’ll surely be featured in the defensive line rotation more as the season progresses.
Phillips made the team not just as depth at cornerback, but for special teams. He outperformed newly-extended Alex Erickson as both a punt and kickoff returner, but it was Erickson who received every chance there.
Phillips saw six special teams snaps and got an assisted tackle for the final kickoff of the game following safety Clayton Fejedelem’s game-winning fumble recovery that was returned for a touchdown.
Erickson had nothing to work with returning punts, as he fair caught most of them, and he only got the chance to return one kickoff. Phillips’ day would’ve probably went the same way if he was back there.
The first real test is done and over with, now the rookies have only a few days rest before the team takes on the Ravens at home on Thursday night. Price’s aforementioned game will be extremely telling of his ability, and Bates and the defense should expect a similar offensive attack with quarterback Joe Flacco and his new group of receivers coming off a 47-point performance against the Bills.