As the second of three preseason games concludes, the roster begins to take shape just a bit more. After the loss to the Giants in New York, here are some takeaways as the season grows closer:
You cannot begin to discuss Week 2 of the preseason without mentioning the play of Daxton Hill. Last week, we saw his versatility on display, and he nearly came down with an interception in the end zone. This week, he was able to make a diving play on a tip-drill interception that ended a Giants drive that had entered Bengals territory.
That wasn’t even the most impressive play from Dax in this game, in my opinion. On the very first drive, quarterback Daniel Jones made a throw into the flat on 3rd&5. We saw Dax Hill quickly process what was happening, then FLY to the ball, closing ground quickly and making an impressive open field tackle to stop the receiver short of the sticks. The drive resulted in a turnover on downs and showed yet again the athleticism Hill possesses. It certainly appears the first round pick is ready to make an impact for the Bengals defense sooner rather than later.
By all accounts, Volson had an up and down performance working as the Left Guard for the entirety of the game. However, save for one rough sequence in the first half, Volson was solid enough. Coupled with Jackson Carman’s struggles last week and absence from the entire week past of practice, Volson appears to now have the inside track for the starting LG job. Assuming Carman gets healthy enough to return to practice this week, he will likely get another crack at the starting role. The third and final preseason game could be the last opportunity for these two to duke it out and see who wins the job outright.
CB and WR Depth
For the second week in a row, Trent Taylor made some plays at receiver, and an undrafted free agent splashed. One week after Kendric Pryor put up a 4/89/1 line, it was Kwamie Lassiter’s turn to impress with a 7/91 performance. It remains to be seen how many receivers the Bengals hold on their active roster this season, but the early returns on these depth guys is promising.
At cornerback, both Allen George and Jalen Davis were impressive again, albeit largely against backups. George had three pass breakups, and Davis was second on the team with eight tackles. Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple are the unquestioned starters, but adding George, Davis, and rookie Cam Taylor-Britt to the mix helps provide depth at a key defensive position.
I don’t think Johnston was really on the roster bubble regardless, but his showing against the Giants was impressive nonetheless. In addition to 20(!) tackles (16 of which were of the solo variety), Johnston played nearly half of the special teams snaps, adding to his versatility. While we may not see much of Johnston at linebacker this season, there is something to be said about the confidence that backups can perform if thrust into action.
Penalties, Penalties, Penalties
I refuse to overreact to the number of penalties the Bengals have committed thus far in the preseason as we are playing less experienced guys with the purpose of getting valuable game reps. But after committing 11 penalties for 104 yards last week, the Bengals again shot themselves in the foot with eight more mishaps in Week 2. D’Ante Smith in particular struggled, committing multiple holding infractions, however, that is not too worrisome considering he is just working his way back from injury. I fully expect the starters to be more disciplined once the regular season begins and return to being one of the least penalized teams in the league, but for now we have to potentially endure another week of penalties that kill drives.
The biggest storylines to come between now and September 11th will likely be 1) the results from the Rams-Bengals joint practices this week, and 2) the perhaps surprising cuts still to be made. I for one cannot wait for the reports of Ja’Marr Chase carving up Jalen Ramsey once again.