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Tuesday Trenches: The calm before the storm

Practice is over. It’s time to play for real.

We’ve learned everything we could from the preseason. The Cincinnati Bengals discovered their young secondary is full of athletic playmakers. They found out they have an even deeper wide receiver group after it was infused with young talent during the draft. Most importantly, though, they showed us one thing we already know.

Without Joe Burrow, the offense doesn’t work.

Here are a few thoughts on the preseason as a whole.

A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on

The Burrow contract extension news has cast a shadow over the preseason. At first, it was very light, but now, at least to me, it seems pretty dark. I’d hate for the Bengals to take the field without a long-term contract for their quarterback in Week 1, which is less than two weeks away.

I’m not saying it won’t happen if it doesn’t happen now, because it will absolutely happen. I would think getting it out of the way would help the team and its most important player focus on the game.

Challenger Deep

The Bengals had the deepest wide receiver room in the NFL with Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd before the draft. They were the Mariana Trench of wide receiver groups, but now they’re Challenger Deep, the deepest point of the ocean (I think. I researched this for a whole 30 seconds).

They added Charlie Jones and Andrei Iosivas in the fourth- and sixth round respectively in this year’s draft, and both have been very good during the preseason, especially Iosivas, who led the team in receiving through the preseason. The future of the offense is bright.

On your mark, get set, start(ers)

I am happy we got to see the defensive starters, even if it was just for a drive. I am disappointed we didn’t get to see any of the offensive starters. I guess I don’t understand the difference. It’s not as if the offensive starters are more important than the defensive starters. Neither can win without the other.

I can understand Burrow not playing, even if his calf was 100 percent a couple of weeks ago. I can even understand why they wouldn’t want to play their starting receivers and tight end. I would have liked to see the starting offensive line play, though. Last year, they didn’t play in the preseason, and it showed in the first couple weeks of the regular season.

The two body problem

Like I said earlier, without Burrow, the team is lost. The offense could barely move the ball down the field, thanks to the less-than-stellar play from both backup quarterbacks, Trevor Siemian and Jake Browning. Browning eventually turned things around, especially in the third game, where he finished 6-for-6 with 42 yards and a touchdown.

That performance sealed the deal. He’ll be the Bengals backup quarterback, but I’m not 100 percent sure signing a quarterback that is about to be released wouldn’t be better, especially if Burrow is still not at 100 percent.

What’s next?

Today, by 4 PM ET, each team has to go from 90 to 53 players. The news will come out fast, not only for the Bengals but the other 111 players that are about to be released. I’m not sure if the Bengals will be looking to add depth from the outside, but it’s not outside of the realm of possibility.

Some other random thoughts on the preseason.....

  • The NFL has its hooks in me deep. Football has only been back for three weeks, and it hasn’t even been real football. I’m already upset that I’m without the NFL this weekend. Thankfully, college football is back as well.
  • When it comes to the practice squad, some of the players I’d like to see clear waivers are Jacob Saylors, Shedrick Jackson, Mitchell Wilcox, Jeff Gunter, Michael Thomas, and Drue Chrisman if they don’t make the team, and I think they’re all on the outside at this point.
  • I think this is the year we see a lot more of Chris Evans. I think. I hope. He played well this preseason, and I see him as the team’s third-down back right now.
  • Jackson Carman was very disappointing throughout the preseason. He had a terrible first game, and while he played a little better in the second and third games, it wasn’t something I would call “good.” Unfortunately, Hakeem Adeniji didn’t play well either, so I do think Carman will make the final 53, but if there’s an injury, the Bengals will be in trouble. Looking outside to a swing tackle wouldn’t be the worst idea.
  • The Bengals’ social media department absolutely earned an A+ throughout the preseason. They’re killing it, and I can’t wait for their internal Hard Knocks-style show coming soon.
  • Throughout the preseason, the defense outshined the offense, but that has a lot to do (I hope) with the offensive starters not playing. The league will absolutely regret allowing the Bengals to hold on to Lou Anarumo this season.
  • Evan McPherson showed he’s a top-three kicker in the NFL this preseason. I know it doesn’t count, but he was 7-for-7, making multiple kicks from over 50 yards.
  • The heat this summer has been brutal. If that doesn’t help condition the Bengals, even for when it’s cold outside, I don’t know what will.
  • Cam Taylor-Britt is going to have a breakout year. I saw nothing but positive things throughout camp during his limited action.
  • Another player that I believe will have a breakout year is Joseph Ossai. I hated seeing him injure his ankle in the third game. Hopefully, it’s a mild sprain and he’s back by Week 2.
  • I believe this is their year. They have added talent, and they still have core players on the team, like DJ Reader and Tee Higgins, both of whom are entering contract years. The window will be open for Burrow’s career, but this year, there are no windows or doors or even a ceiling.
  • There are only a handful of teams that I feel are on the Bengals' same level. Those include the Chiefs, Jets, Bills, Eagles, and 49ers.

Who impressed you the most during preseason? Who were you disappointed in?

Who Dey!