We finally got to get our first look at the 2021 Cincinnati Bengals (sans Joe Burrow) in Tampa Bay against the Bucs. There were some really rocky points, but Cincinnati came away with a win. More importantly, there were plenty of bright spots from the game.
Joseph Ossai shines Saturday night
The Bengals drastically shook things up by bringing in plenty of new names as a pass rusher. Ossai was a name that many were hopeful could be a quality rotational piece. After his performance Saturday, we could be seeing the birth of the next great Bengals’ pass rusher.
Ossai against Wirfs on 3rd down pic.twitter.com/IQpSlIkTmm— Cagen Cantrell (@CeeingTheDraft) August 14, 2021
Dude is everywhere. Backside pursuit, in the QBs face, bending the edge or jumping on a fumble. You are seeing so much of what the Bengals loved in picking him already. Contagious, relentless energy.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 15, 2021
I can't take my eyes off Joseph Ossai.— Goodberry (@JoeGoodberry) August 15, 2021
The rookie was believed by many to be a first round talent who somehow slipped to the third round of the 2021 draft this season. He has quickly shown that all the NFL decision makers made a mistake by letting him slip to the third. Cincinnati has a history of hitting on mid-round defensive linemen. Guys like Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins and Carl Lawson were all either selected in the third or fourth round. Now Ossai is building on that reputation.
The rookie pass rusher played well into the third quarter and made plays the whole way. He did leave with an injury to his right hand. Hopefully it doesn’t end up being that serious so he can continue to shine.
Joseph Ossai, having a massive debut, looked to hurt himself causing a pressure on that last play. He's getting looked at by trainers. Looking at his hand which appeared to smack Darius Hodge as they met at the QB.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 15, 2021
Funky extra point
It is the preseason for more than just the players. Coaches and officials are knocking off the rust after not being on the field for quite some time. That showed up when the Bucs had a very strange extra point mistake.
Preseason shenanigans alert: Bucs elect to go for 2, spread everyone out in a goofy formation, call them back in and then kick it. Which is undeniably against the agreed upon rules of where you kick PATs from.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 15, 2021
So, no good. Now 6-0 Bucs.
This used to be a slightly common thing to see on extra points. If the defending special teams unit doesn’t line up with the proper numbers then it can be an easy two-point conversion. However, the rule change for where extra points are kicked has clearly changed the viability of that call.
Fortunately, the Bengals managed to have their extra point count.
Bengals kick the PAT with the ball on the right yard line.— Ben Baby (@Ben_Baby) August 15, 2021
Seems to be important, apparently.
Other rookies showing off
It is hard to give a big highlight to ever bright spot, but here are some quick hits for the rookies showing off.
Jackson Carman had to wait pretty long to get into the game, and he had some ups and downs. Still, his highlight was this incredible block on the goal line showing off his potential.
My goodness Carman ran him over pic.twitter.com/sSKM1Loa20— Ashton Lane (@ashtonmickeal) August 15, 2021
Ja’Marr Chase made his debut with a pretty good catch-and-run on a screen. We didn’t see him with another catch after that. Always good to see a good gain like this.
D’Ante Smith has been a pretty big name from camp as of late, and he showed why by playing most of the game at left guard and left tackle. He may end up sneaking his way into a starting role at this rate. At the very least he will be on the short-list for a spot.
D'Ante Smith has looked really good at times, and he has played most of this game. It is clear this coaching staff is high on this rookie.— Patrick Judis (@PatrickJudis) August 15, 2021
Ossai wasn’t the only rookie pass rusher to show off. Undrafted rookie Darius Hodge managed to get in the backfield a couple of times.
Hodge gets home on third down. 1.5 sacks tonight. Heck of a game for the rookie college free agent.— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonATH) August 15, 2021
Not to overreact, but fans saw what you’d like to see from rookies in the first preseason game.
not sure a rookie has looked bad for the bengals tonight aside from the high schooler at right tackle.— John Sheeran (@John__Sheeran) August 15, 2021
The Bengals' rookie class after one preseason game. pic.twitter.com/KFVaNlmu0g— Cincy Jungle (@CincyJungle) August 15, 2021
McPherson puts his best foot forward
Kicking is a real sore spot with Bengals fans. Enter Evan McPherson who was drafted in the fifth round. The rookie is trying to prove he is not only worth that draft pick, but he is simultaneously trying to prove he deserves the job as Cincinnati’s kicker.
He did his best to do that Saturday by crushing a couple of 40-yard kicks right down the center.
Wheeewwww Evan McPherson destroyed that football— Jake Liscow (@JakeLiscow) August 15, 2021