The Cincinnati Bengals shook things up a bit this preseason releasing long time h-back Ryan Hewitt and keeping four tight ends on their roster.
Although tight end Mason Schreck was impressive in the preseason, many thought that he would be the odd man out. When he did make it, it was assumed that it was due to the threat of Tyler Eifert getting injured.
In the Bengals’ Week 1 game against the Indianapolis Colts, they used Eifert, Tyler Kroft, and C.J. Uzomah heavily and showed how they will deal with the absence of Hewitt. While Eifert is the star of the group and Kroft was the starter most of last season it was Uzomah who played the most snaps against the Colts, likely due to his versatility.
In the first clip, Uzomah is lined up in the natural tight end position to the left of the formation. Eifert lined up at fullback offset to the twins. As the play action occurs, the linebackers to the twins side look to fill, and Eifert sneaks right by them and is wide open.
Did you see Tyler Eifert back there?— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) September 10, 2018
Neither did the Colts' defense... pic.twitter.com/FfgBue24Bg
In this clip, both Kroft and Uzomah are on the field, but neither is lined up as a true tight end. Uzomah is lined up in the slot at the top of the screen and Kroft is lined up in an h-back position on the bottom of the screen. The Bengals run a bootleg with Uzomah running the deep crosser and Kroft blocking down on the defensive end before releasing to the flat.
Dalton to Kroft on the boot pic.twitter.com/ILexcZ7pol— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) September 10, 2018
On this play, Uzomah is lined up as an attached tight end on the right side of the formation. He catches the ball on a quick out route.
CJ Uzomah on the out route pic.twitter.com/SNpglTqwoQ— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) September 10, 2018
Here, Uzomah is lined up as the slot receiver on the right side of the formation. Running back Joe Mixon motions out to the right and the quarterback Andy Dalton throws him a quick screen. Uzomah provides a bigger and stronger blocker in front of him.
Uzomah flexed out to be a blocker pic.twitter.com/vlEIYC0wIk— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) September 10, 2018
On this goal-line play, Uzomah lines up at tight end on the right side of the formation. Offensive tackle Jake Fisher lines up at tight end on the left side, and Kroft lines up at the h-back off of his shoulder.
Rookie defensive lineman Sam Hubbard is lined up at fullback. He leads the way for Mixon on the touchdown run.
Finally found a replacement for Domata Peko's other role... pic.twitter.com/Z9LIC3CNwU— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) September 10, 2018
The Bengals load up the right side of the formation on this play with Kroft at tight end on the line of scrimmage, Uzomah at h-back outside of him, and Eifert lined up outside of Uzomah.
Both Uzomah and Eifert are lined up tight like h-backs but in staggered stances like wide receivers. Their alignment puts them in a position to contribute as a blocker in the run game, and their stances allows them to get a quick release in the pass game.
This is a pass play and both get quickly into their routes.
Interesting alignment by the TEs pic.twitter.com/5tHgoYEjD4— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) September 10, 2018
Kroft lines up at tight end on the right side with Uzomah outside of him in the h-back position. Running back Tra Carson lines up in front of Mixon in the I-formation. Right guard Alex Redmond pulls around and kicks out.
Center Billy Price also pulls and leads up the hole along with Carson.
The Bengals have a plethora of tight ends who can contribute in multiple ways. In Week 1, they showed that they can use multiple players at the position; using the strengths of each to put them in a position to succeed.