The Bengals earned their first win of the year against the Cardinals, 19-13, on Sunday. It was a great game for the defense, which also provided the team’s only touchdown. The offense did well to stick to their new identity under Hue Jackson, but failed to score any touchdowns. But because this team possesses such a dominate defense, sometimes this type of performance will be enough. As long as the offense focuses on ball security and time of possession, this team will always be in any game because of its defense–of course we expect the offense to do more, just applauding the defense here. As is always the focus during the preseason, the coaches got another look at their roster, absorbed the information and continued making choices towards which players will make the final roster. The Bengals have already decreased their roster to 81 after releasing wide receiver Ryan Whalen, cornerback R.J. Stanford, kicker Quinn Sharp, safety Isaiah Lewis, and defensive tackle Larry Black. They’ll need to make another six cuts today (per league rules) and will need to release 28 players in total before the get to the mandated 53 number. Here’s the latest prediction following the third preseason game.
Special Teams (3): (P) Ken Huber, (K) Mike Nugent, (LS) Clark Harris
With the release of Quinn Sharp, the core of the special teams unit is now established. The Bengals will retain the same group they had last year. Before having his jaw broken on a blind side block, Ken Huber was having an excellent season. Clark Harris has been a reliable long-snapper for the Bengals since 2009. Both he and Huber were signed to five year extensions in 2013. Mike Nugent was retained in lieu of Sharp. Nugent has been an average kicker or the past couple of years, but he’s done nothing wrong this off-season, so he retained his job. Hopefully Nugent can stay healthy, something he’s struggled with in the past, and return to his 2011 form. With a strong defense, the Bengals may not need to score tons of points to win games. If Nugent can provide those points like he did versus the Cardinals last night, the Bengals may find themselves on the winning side of the scoreboard even when the offense struggles to get into the end zone.