Joseph Ossai was set to mitigate the loss of Carl Lawson.
The third round pick out of Texas had an impressive debut in the preseason against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with seven quarterback pressures, four hits, and a sack of quarterback Tom Brady. He was, by far, the most fun player to watch on defense. Late in the third quarter, though, he suffered a wrist injury. And then it was revealed he has a meniscus tear as well.
Nonetheless, the Bengals’ pass rush—a weak point last season—didn’t miss a beat against Washington in their second preseason game. Cincinnati managed to apply constant pressure against a solid offensive line. Undrafted rookie Darius Hodge had a hit on quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Cam Sample led the team in pressures before exiting with an injury. The team had 15 total pressures, including a combined three from nosetackle D.J. Reader and massive defensive tackle Renell Wren, indicating they are getting a great push upfront. And splashy free agent signing Trey Hendrickson hasn’t even really gotten going yet with just one pressure through two games.
Whether it’s finding the right pieces for Lou Anarumo’s defense or another year of growth for the young linebackers and better depth in the defensive backfield, it does seem that there was truth to the reports out of training camp: the defense is ready to take a big step forward.
We discuss the loss of Ossai, the improved pass rush, and the shockingly solid pass protection by the offensive line through two preseason games in our most recent show. You can listen on iTunes or using the player below:
You can also watch the video here: