Bengals Preseason Game 2: Keys to the Game

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The Bengals had a very nice showing in their preseason opener against the New York Jets. The defense looked close to mid-season form and the offense really got things going after an initial three-and-out. Aside from the abundant amount of injuries suffered, it was almost as good a showing as a fan could ask for in their preseason debut.

Tonight, the Bengals will face a much tougher foe in the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons will be a much more difficult test for the Bengals in many facets of the game. Let’s go through things to watch out for during this test in the second preseason game of the 2012 season.

The Bengals defense sure looked great against Mark Sanchez and company in week one. Bengals fans seemed ecstatic about the way their team performed on that side of the ball. This week will be a much more difficult test with the high-powered offense of Atlanta.

First off, Atlanta has a much stronger power running game with Michael Turner in the backfield. Turner is so very tough to tackle and can easily drag defenders for a few extra yards after initial contact. The Bengals defensive line and linebackers must be up to the challenge to stop him in the same fashion as they did Shonn Greene in week one.

Also, the passing game that Atlanta possesses is one of the best in the league. They have a solid quarterback in Matt Ryan and two amazingly talented wide receivers in Roddy White and Julio Jones. Also, let’s not forget about the future Hall of Fame tight end, Tony Gonzalez. This will be one of the toughest tests for the Bengals secondary as they continue to try to gel as a unit. It will be quite a task to keep the Falcons passing attack as dormant as the Jets last week.

Leon Hall is nearly 100% again and fans will be able to see how well he has recovered from his Achilles injury by shadowing Roddy White. Pacman Jones, Nate Clements, Terence Newman, and Jason Allen need to step up and be able to cover the very fast Julio Jones. It will be interesting to see how defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer, handles his personnel against this high-flying passing attack. Look for safties, Reggie Nelson and Taylor Mays to work as a tandem and prevent either of these receivers from getting past them in coverage.

It will also be interesting to see certain substitution packages on defense. During practice this week, Burfict received reps at linebacker in the nickel package and Nate Clements was brought in at safety in the same scheme. It will be very telling of what defensive coordinator, Mike Zimmer wants to do with his defense this season if these substitutions continue against the Falcons tonight.