The preseason has wrapped up for the Cincinnati Bengals, who played their final tune-up game Saturday night vs. the Washington Commanders. In a back-and-forth battle that came down to the wire, Cincinnati ultimately came up short, falling 21-19 to go winless in the preseason.
Here are the winners and losers from this one.
The rookie wide receiver continued his impressive offseason by catching his first touchdown of the preseason. He also set up that score with an impressive back-shoulder catch on third down that likely reminded fans of watching the likes of Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Iosivas is making this team, and he may very well be the WR4 when it is all said and done.
Brown hasn’t been able to flash this preseason. You can give plenty of that blame to the backup offensive line. However, against Washington, Brown looked very impressive. He ripped off a number of impressive runs while piling up yards after contact. It will likely be a battle week to week for who gets snaps behind Joe Mixon at running back, but Brown showed he deserves to be in that conversation.
Carney came in following an injury to Joseph Ossai. The undrafted rookie was a pretty big long shot to make the actual roster with all five spots ahead of him taken up. The life of an undrafted player, though, isn’t always about making the 53-man roster of the team you’re playing for in the preseason. There are 31 other teams and 32 practice squads that need to be filled. He looked good filling in and even walked away with a sack on the night.
Hudson got injured after an impressive showing in the first preseason game, and he followed that up with yet another impressive performance tonight. Hudson is fighting for that third or fourth tight end spot, but he looks like a guy who could end up becoming the second tight end on this team. He looked good catching tipped passes as well as running after the catch. Even if he doesn’t make this roster he will end up somewhere.
The trend here is roster bubble or players not set to make this roster putting impressive tape together. Saylors ran like his job depended on it, and he broke quite a few tackles while making some impressive cuts/reads. He could easily have worked his way onto Cincinnati’s practice squad running like that.
Raymond Johnson III
Perhaps the biggest winner tonight was Raymond Johnson III, who entered the game firmly on the roster bubble while fighting for one of those final defensive line spots. He responded with several pressures and a key fourth-quarter sack that gave the Bengals a chance to win the game.
Was this enough for Johnson to earn his spot on the 53-man roster? If not, there’s no question the Bengals will try to get him on the practice squad if no one else claims him.
When you are in a battle for a spot as close as Siemian is with Jake Browning, everything you do is put under a microscope. Siemian’s stats weren’t terrible, but Browning came out six for six and led a touchdown drive punctuated by a great read and throw to Iosivas. Meanwhile, Siemian’s most impressive drive was punctuated by a really bad decision to throw into double coverage that ended up getting picked. That kind of thing could very well help decide this position battle when it is all said and done.
Trey Hill has been the backup center for Cincinnati for the past couple of seasons. This offseason, the team brought in some competition with Max Scharping. Scharping had never played center before, but the team has been working with him and has looked serviceable. Given Scharping’s positional versatility, which includes being able to play guard and tackle, he had the inside track to Hill’s spot. Hill hasn’t looked like a guy someone is going to bang the table to keep on the 53-man roster. He also committed a painful penalty that killed a drive by grabbing a defender's face mask on an impressive 15-yard third-down conversion.
Unfortunately, the Bengals didn’t make it out of this one without a key player getting hurt, as Joseph Ossai suffered an ankle injury in the first quarter and was later ruled out. Ossai has had trouble staying healthy since coming to the NFL, including a season-ending injury as a rookie in the preseason.
Hopefully, this one isn’t that serious, but still a tough setback for a promising third-year player.