The Bengals narrowly lost to the Giants, signaling only one more week of preseason football.
Several players sought to make their case for why they should be included on the 53-man roster. Some players, like Rodney Anderson and Damion Willis made strong arguments, while others, including O’Shea Dugas did not.
For some players, there is only one more week to demonstrate their value.
But what did we learn from this weeks’ game against the Giants?
Backup corners got exposed
With Darqueze Dennard still out and Dre Kirkpatrick also inactive, Tony McRae got the nod at slot corner. It did not go well for him.
Eli Manning and Daniel Jones combined for four completions on five passes targeting McRae, racking up 72 yards and a passer rating of 118.8. On all other passes, they were nine of 14 for 113 yards and a passer rating of 89.3.
For someone who needed to put together a solid performance to make his case for staying on the roster, McRae was profoundly disappointing.
Davontae Harris also had a disappointing game with a special teams penalty and a crucial 35-yard catch that set up a touchdown in the fourth quarter. When every snap counts, this is not good for his roster odds.
The offensive line is still being pieced together
Right now, the offensive line is a puzzle that is put together, and may not even take its final form until well after the season starts.
The first offensive line went out for the first two drives, but then there was a different personnel grouping for every subsequent drive until the fourth quarter.
Billy Price started at center, but also played both guard positions at some point throughout the night. Trey Hopkins played guard with the “ones,” but played center with the “twos.” Michael Jordan made his second straight start at left guard. Even John Jerry moved around from right guard to left tackle.
So what will the Week 1 starting offensive line be? It’s impossible to say at this point.
On the whole, its still a work in progress. Pressure from the line got in the way of the passing game, and Andy Dalton’s first few incompletions were caused by the pressure. In addition, Bengals rushers gained 1.8 yards per carry.
The line still needs work, but the work is not even close to being done.
Rodney Anderson is amazing
When the Bengals drafted an injured Rodney Anderson, there was a possibility that we wouldn’t see him at all this year. It’s a good thing that was untrue.
Even though he only rushed for seven yards on eight carries behind a swiss cheese offensive line, he showed why he is an exciting prospect.
On his 12 touches, he made a total of 10 defenders miss tackles. In the open field, he gained 51 yards on four receptions, showing that when he has space, he is as deadly a threat as anyone on the roster.
Not only was a force with the ball in his hands, but he did a great job in pass protection, helping Dalton get extra time on his touchdown drive.
That is the type of talent a running back needs in order to succeed on this team. That’s how Joe Mixon led the conference in rushing last season, and that’s how Anderson will make his mark on this team.
It will be impossible to get all the running back the touches they deserve this year, but one thing is for certain: the rushing game will not suffer for lack of talented ball carriers.
The mistakes are getting cleaned up
After the first preseason game against the Chiefs, I said that the penalties and turnovers weren’t worrisome unless they persisted.
After drawing 11 penalties in each of the first two preseason games, the Bengals were only flagged five times in preseason Week 3, costing them only 40 yards.
In addition to a reduced number of penalties, there were also no giveaways.
This is the kind of improvements that distinguishes great coaches.