Every year, there are a couple of unheralded players who gain a lot of notoriety for their play. Sometimes it leads to a practice squad designation, while in others, these preseason heroes contribute in the regular season.
Back in 2009, when the team first appeared on HBO’s “Hard Knocks”, Quan Cosby and Tom Nelson were undrafted guys who made big splashes on special teams. Both ended up making the final roster and, in Cosby’s case, made an impact as a rookie.
A few years later, Dane Sanzenbacher was a guy who shined on the cable network’s stage, while Alex Erickson, Jake Kumerow and Auden Tate have all been the more recent darlings of August. While the regular season results have been mixed, to put it kindly, they’ve made for some very interesting storylines in the summer months.
This year, the Cincinnati Bengals are in the middle of a major transition. Marvin Lewis is out, while the excitable Zac Taylor and his new staff have been ushered in to The Queen City.
With the different staff comes different priorities, in terms of player profiles they covet. Lewis was an old school guy who liked some of his lower depth-charted players to contribute on special teams.
Taylor, however, might be looking for the opposite. Because of the supposedly-dynamic offensive system he has been implementing, Taylor will want guys to be able to impact that side of the ball from even the fringe roster makes.
On this week’s Orange and Black Insider episode, John Sheeran and I took a stab at a couple of players we felt could be the talk of the summer. Three of the four players we named came from the 2019 draft class.
Renell Wren: The team’s fourth-round pick is the quintessential “boom-or-bust” player. He has incredible measurables, but the tape never seemed to match the physique. Cincinnati has had some great luck with mid-round defensive tackles lately, and Wren could be one of the best, if he figures things out.
Sterling Sheffield: The ‘tweener edge player from Maine is intriguing. Remember Chris Smith from a few years ago? Sheffield could find a way on to the final roster as a niche pass-rusher with a big preseason like Smith had a few summers ago.
Trayveon Williams: In the preseason, backup running backs get a lot of work. The Bengals will undoubtedly be looking for options behind Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard and Williams should fit the bill. Playing in his corner is his familiarity with Jim Turner’s blocking schemes from their respective days at Texas A&M.
Jordan Brown: There have already been some murmurs about Brown looking impressive in the spring camps, so he has a leg up. And, with a slew of former Lewis era defensive backs still on the roster, Brown may have a leg up on a roster spot. However, there may only be one available spot in the group, given the re-signing of Darqueze Dennard and acquisition of B.W. Webb.
Who are some of your candidates for a preseason hero on the Bengals’ roster?
Also on this week’s episode:
- Who are a couple of potential breakout players for the team in 2019?
- Could Germaine Pratt be an immediate, high-impact player for the defense?
- What are some of the best “tea-sipping moments” by the team?
- Which one of those brag-worthy moments do you remember most fondly?
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