The Bengals waived 18 players and also terminated the contract of CB Chykie Brown today. In addition to those moves LB Vontaze Burfict was placed on the Reserve/Suspened list and DT Marcus Hardison was placed on season ending IR due to a shoulder injury he sustained in the game against Jacksonville last Sunday. The team also waived WR Mario Alford from IR with an injury settlement.
Last night’s game may not have ended the way Bengals’ fans wanted (a 25-yard game-winning Colts’ TD pass with 40 seconds left), but given that it was just a preseason game whose biggest impact was determining who makes the final 53-man roster, nobody is sweating it.
The starters had the night off, which was a welcome sign to fans who had their fingers crossed that there would be no more injuries to key players. The only tradeoff to that? The first half had about as much action as a Barbara Walters-James Lipton buddy cop movie. The score was tied at 0 at halftime, and even with the exciting final two minutes – which saw a 15-yard touchdown pass from Cincy QB Keith Wenning to wide receiver Alonzo Russell followed by Colts’ signal-caller Stephen Morris’ toss to Tevaun Smith for the clinching TD – it wasn’t a game you needed to set the DVR for.
Here’s the Good and the Bad from Thursday night:
* Preseason’s over. The next time Cincinnati takes the field, it will be at MetLife Stadium against the Jets on Sunday, September 11 – and it will be for real.
* No big injuries. The worst thing that happened was cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris leaving the game with a stinger.
* Backup DT DeShawn Williams played well, with three tackles (one for a loss) and three QB hits.
* Rookie linebacker Nick Vigil didn’t look like a rookie when he snagged an interception inside the Bengals’ 5-yard line in the second quarter.
* Not to be outdone by those other defenders, LB Trevor Roach made 11 tackles, including five on the Colts’ opening drive.
* Wide receiver Alex Erickson had a good game with three receptions for 44 yards and a couple of punt returns for 18 yards.
* Fellow WR Jake Kumerow also had three catches, for 60 yards. He has a shot to make the practice squad.
* The backup offensive line didn’t show up last week. Thursday night was an encore.
* That previous point was evident in Wenning taking a few shots that didn’t need to happen.
Cincinnati put up a solid effort in last Thursday’s 30-14 win over Detroit. With a trip to Jacksonville to take on the 0-2 Jaguars looming, here are 5 things to watch in the third game of the Bengals’ preseason.
1. Wide receiver battle, part I. News flash: 5-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green commands the top WR position. But there are question marks for the second spot. Brandon LaFell, fresh off a stint with the Patriots, is experienced but has yet to crack the 1,000-yard mark in a season and is battling a hand injury. Rookie Tyler Boyd is versatile … and just now cutting his teeth in the pros.
2. WR battle, part II. There are several candidates trying to fill out the back end of the receiver rotation before the roster is cut to 53 men on September 3rd. Brandon Tate, Alex Erickson, James Wright, Mario Alford, and Jake Kumerow are all battling for spots. You may be wondering “Who Dey?”, but it’s more a question of “Who Make It?” and “Who Don’t?”
3. A banged-up secondary. Darqueze Dennard won’t play because of a sprained ankle, First-round pick William Jackson III has a torn pectoral muscle and will spend most of the season (if not all of it) on Injured Reserve. That’s less-than-good news when facing a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, as well as tight ends Julius Thomas (5 catches of 20+ yards last year) and Mercedes Lewis (14.1 yards per reception).
4. How long will the starters stay in? Getting reps for the No. 1 guys is crucial so they can hit the ground running (or passing) when the regular season kicks off September 11 against the Jets, who won 10 games in 2015. Andy Dalton looked smooth against Detroit, going 7 of 9 and posting a 102.8 QB rating. Does he stay in until the third quarter before coach Marvin Lewis slaps third-year man A.J. McCarron on the shoulder and says ‘Go get ’em.”? And with tight end Tyler Eifert most likely out 4-6 weeks to start the season it will be interesting to see how much playing time other key weapons like Green, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard get.
5. Can the Bengals avoid the bug? The injury bug, that is. We already mentioned the losses of Dennard and WJIII, which can be enough to put the passing defense behind the proverbial 8-ball. A big goal for the team is to get through the game with the starting lineup intact and keep the team doctors from having a busy night.