It’s inching closer to that time of year when darkness saturates the sky as you’re exiting the office around 6:30 p.m. Summer is over. It’s fall. And before you know it, winter solstice. You’re exhausted. You’re in a rush. Hurry, get the kids to soccer practice or gymnastics. You’re spent — today was a rough day, you champion of the cubicle. In the meantime, you’re not sure what happened with the Bengals. You can’t navigate 20 stories on the site; there’s no time to read everything.
This is my day. Everyday. Pulling out of the office on Thursday, it occurred to me... if Cincinnati traded Andy Dalton, when would I have known?
So I’m testing something today: A brief recap in the evening that covers published stories throughout the day. A one-stop-shop for America’s busiest folks. This won’t be a nightly feature — there are some days nothing happens and my professional life is equally hectic. Maybe 4-5 times a week. Unless it takes off and the site embraces the idea. But I want to test this for about a month. It’ll be like a “Bengals Bytes” but in the evening. This is my way of catching up, and I figure we could share that brief journey together.
Feedback is good. Is there interest? I know my first suggestion... shorten it. This will be more informal. Fun. Relaxing. Less wordy. Trust me. I’m figuring this out too. Tell me your thoughts in the comments, on Twitter, or snail mail.
1) Concerning the Bengals defense against Cam and Christian. Matt Minch breaks down Christian McCaffrey and the headache he might cause Cincinnati’s defense, writing that “McCaffrey will be a big challenge to this linebacker group and the defense on a whole. His skill set fits perfectly into the weakest aspect of the Bengals defensive.”
McCaffrey posted 14 receptions for 102 yards last week against the Atlanta Falcons.
“Last year, we were just kind of learning and growing with him and him growing with us,” Panthers coach Ron Rivera said of McCaffrey via the Enquirer. “This year we have a much better feel for how to use him and exploit him.”
Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin will also have his hands full with a dynamic quarterback in Cam Newton, who leads the Panthers with 100 yards rushing. The mothership adds:
It is also means Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is emphasizing tackling the brute strength of the 6-5, 260-pound Newton. But he also has to make sure they don’t run afoul of the “roughing the quarterback,” craze that has hit NFL officiating.
“He’s made a lot of good decisions these first two games,” coach Ron Rivera said via the Associated Press. “I’m real excited about the progress Cam has shown in terms of understanding and getting a feel for what coach Turner wants.”
Cincinnati’s young defense, especially their linebackers, needs to prepare themselves against a troublesome offense. “It’s not foreign to them,” Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin said of his young players via the Dayton Daily News. “They’re used to it, they’ve seen it. The biggest thing is making sure they know what our plan is and executing our plan.”
2) Evolution at running back. With Joe Mixon sidelined for a couple of weeks, backup running back Giovani Bernard is expected to start Sunday. Offensive coordinator Bill Lazor is confident Bernard can carry the team during Mixon’s absence.
“He’s really physically unique being able to do that with his stature, to play the way he plays,” Lazor said. “He finishes runs, he doesn’t run out of bounds, he doesn’t go down easily. I think he’s a warrior. I have great respect for him. Do we have to be smart with him? Absolutely. But no different than with any starting running back.”
Bernard was limited during Wednesday’s practice, but was full-go on Thursday.
Additional Moves: Tra Carson cleared waivers on Thursday and was placed on Injured Reserve. Carson, who suffered a hamstring injury on Monday, was placed on waivers after the team signed Thomas Rawls.
Stepping it up: In the meantime, Mixon ran on a zero-gravity treadmill and optimistically said that he feels great. “Doing some striders and getting in a little conditioning.”
3) It’s just a bug. Starting right tackle Bobby Hart sat during practice on Thursday due to an “illness”. Backups Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi filled in. Jason Marcum argues that Hart “needs to be benched” anyway. PFF analysis agrees — he’s the lowest graded offensive player in Cincinnati and ranked 92nd out of 94th among all offensive tackles in the NFL.
Not working on Thursday: Hart was joined by Mixon (knee) and Billy Price (foot) on the “did not participate list”. Michael Johnson (knee) remained limited, as was Preston Brown (ankle).
4) A.J. Green from the slot. The Athletic’s Joe Goodberry reviews A.J. Green’s production from the slot, where he’s caught all four of his touchdowns this season. This might be a problem for cornerback James Bradberry, who wants to challenge Green. However, Bradberry plays outside whereas Captain Munnerlyn plays nickel.
“I’m ready for the challenge,” Munnerlyn said via the Charlotte Observer. “I know he’s got the height advantage, but at the same time, I know how to put myself in position to make plays. ...I think (what makes him so special as a receiver) is him going up and getting the ball. How he can high-point the ball. He runs great routes, he’s very long. He’s a very long receiver. He’s got body control, and he’s got great hands.”
5) Playing against the hometown team. Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly squares off against his hometown Cincinnati Bengals this weekend. Kuechly visited with the Bengals during a predraft visit.
“I had never been in the Bengals locker room, had never had the chance to meet any of the coaches,” he said via the Charlotte Observer. “Obviously I grew up watching them and wondering what it was like to have the opportunity to be in the NFL. To go in the locker room and see behind the scenes for me was something that was really cool. I took a bunch of visits at other places, but it was the hometown team so that kind of made it cool.”