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Tuesday Trenches: What to watch for in Bengals vs. Packers

Here’s what to watch for in the Bengals first preseason game this Friday night.

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

It’s almost here! Can you believe it?

The last time the Cincinnati Bengals took the field, it was in the AFC Championship, and that was way back in late January. It may as well have been 20 years ago. So much has happened since then. We have a new tight end and a new left tackle on offense. The defense has new faces in the secondary. And we get to see it all on Friday night.

Well, not all of it.

Here are a few things to keep an eye out for on Friday night against the Green Bay Packers.

Chase Brown and Chris Evans

Joe Mixon is RB1. That’s not in question, and while I expect Mixon to play on Friday night, I wouldn’t be surprised if he only played a series or possibly not at all. With Trayveon Williams dealing with an ankle issue, we’re going to get a lot of rookie running back Chase Brown and a guy named Chris Evans.

Brown, selected in the fifth round out of Illinois, is hoping to fill the shoes of Samaje Perine, who left in free agency to sign with the Denver Broncos. Perine was the team’s third-down back, but his role in the offense grew as he was a better pass blocker than Mixon. Rookie running backs typically struggle with pass blocking, so it will be interesting to see what Brown can do in his first NFL game action.

As far as Evans goes, I don’t expect him to make the team. I think the Bengals keep Mixon, Brown, and Williams. Evans hasn’t been able to get consistent playing time, despite having some standout plays in big situations. I don’t expect the Bengals to waste a roster spot on him when the final rosters are announced, but I’m still excited to see him on the field on Friday.

Andrei Iosivas

We know Joe Burrow isn’t going to play on Friday. While the big three receivers, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd, might play, they’ll play sparingly. This means some of the other receivers are going to get a lot of playing time. I would have included fellow rookie receiver Charlie Jones, but he’s dealing with a shoulder issue that may keep him on the sidelines even though he practiced Monday.

This means we should get a large dose of Iosivas, one of the team’s sixth-round selections out of Princeton. He’s got track-star speed, he’s 6-3, and weighs in at just under 215 pounds. He has shown flashes at camp, and while it may be difficult for a sixth-round pick to make a team so loaded at wide receiver, he has certainly made a strong case and could really secure his spot if he looks good Friday night. Keep an eye on him.

Backup Quarterback

The Bengals aren’t going to have Joe Burrow anywhere near the playing field on Friday night as he deals with a strain. While I don’t think there’s any real fear that he’ll miss the first game of the regular season, I’d be a little surprised if Burrow played at all in the preseason. This means we’re going to a full dose of the team’s backup quarterback on Friday against the Packers.

The Bengals will need to choose a quarterback between Trevor Siemian, Jake Browning, and Reid Sinnett to back up Burrow when the season starts.

The team signed Siemian this offseason after Brandon Allen signed with the 49ers, and he’ll likely get the start, but Browning has played well during camp. And then there’s former XFL quarterback Reid Sinnett, who was just signed after Burrow strained his calf. Could he play well enough to make the final 53? We’ll see.

The backups on the defensive line

We know who’s going to be starting on the defensive line. It’ll be Trey Hendrickson, D.J. Reader, B.J. Hill, and Sam Hubbard. While I love to watch them play, I’m not interested in seeing them play because I know what they can do. I want to see the guys who back them up. I’m excited to see rookie Myles Murphy, Joseph Ossai, Zach Carter, and Josh Tupou, as well as Jay Tufele and Jeff Gunter.

The Bengals have a great group of pass rushers, but there’s not a ton of depth on the interior defensive line. The team is obviously hoping Carter can step up as an interior pass rusher, and hopefully, he can fill the void that was left unfilled since Larry Ogunjobi was injured and then signed elsewhere. It’ll also be interesting to see if Murphy or other outside pass rushers move inside during obvious passing situations.

Here are some other things to keep an eye out for

  • With the extensions for Bengals linebackers Germaine Pratt and Logan Wilson, fellow 2020 draft pick Akeem Davis-Gaither, who will absolutely make the team, is likely entering the last year with the Bengals. He’s a talented linebacker who could be starting for another defense. The duo of Pratt and Wilson won’t play much on Friday, and I’d like to see ADG on the field more often in 2023. It’ll be interesting to see if the Bengals find a new way of using him.
  • The Bengals are replacing the safety tandem of Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell with Nick Scott and Dax Hill. Friday night will be the first time we get to see them in action. It’ll also be the first game experience for rookie Jordan Battle.
  • This will be the first time we get to see the new-look offensive line with Orlando Brown Jr. at left tackle and Jonah Williams at right tackle. They may not play very much, if at all, but seeing them together on the field in a game will be exciting.
  • Before the offseason, considering the injury to Chidobe Awuzie and the lack of depth at the position, cornerback was looking thin. However, with the signing of Sidney Jones IV and the selection of DJ Turner and DJ Ivey in the draft, it’s one of the deepest positions on the roster. I don’t know how much Awuzie, Cam Taylor-Britt, or Mike Hilton, the starters, will play, but I’m excited to see Turner, Ivey, and Jones in action against another team.
  • Rookie punter Brad Robbins will get his first game action. Hopefully, he’s not needed very often, but it’ll be cool to see him punt as well as act as a holder for Evan McPherson.
  • When the starting line comes out, if they even play, keep an eye on where the backups line up. Guys like Jackson Carman, Hakeem Adeniji, and Cody Ford have lined up in multiple spots on the line, so it’ll be interesting and telling to see where they line up.

What are you looking forward to seeing on Friday night?

Who Dey!