Players on the bubble are the ones that should be the most interesting to watch during this game. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
Back-up middle linebacker is a huge spot to watch. Two players whom are very deserving to make this team are battling it out in Roddrick Muckelroy and Vontaze Burfict. Both of these players have been very impressive this preseason and will look to continue that streak on Thursday. Muckelroy has been a tackling machine and Burfict seems to have a nose for the football whether it is in the air, or in a ball carrier’s hands. They are two very promising and very entertaining players to watch, and if they both have a good outing against the Colts, it will be tough for the Bengals coaching staff to let either player go.
Reggie Nelson has solidified a starting safety spot, but there is a battle for the safety position across the field from him. Taylor Mays and Jeromy Miles are in an intense struggle to qualify for the starting position. This is an interesting battle to watch because these players have such a different approach to the game. Mays is one of the hardest-hitting players in the league and never does shy away from contact. Miles can wrap up and make tackles, but he is not the hard hitter that Mays is. Instead, Miles relies mostly on his great coverage skills and can cover receivers from the safety position as well as a nickel corner back position. There is a very good possibility that Mike Zimmer will use that great defensive mind of his, and find a way to split time between these players at the safety position. There is always a possibility that Zimmer could use both players in the game at the same time in certain packages.
The second wide receiver position is also still up for grabs. Right now, the favorite seems to be Brandon Tate, but Armon Binns has been step for step with him all camp and preseason. Also, don’t count out rookies Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones. Both have also shown flashes of their play making ability this preseason and could still be in the running for the position. The starting group will not play much, but these receivers still could see additional playing time against Indianapolis to allow the coaching staff more time to analyze the talent that they have at this position.
If the starters do, in fact, play a couple series, one thing to take notice is quarterback, Andy Dalton‘s opening possessions. The Bengals offense keeps stumbling out of the gate, and they need to show more crispness in them earlier in a football game. A good opening drive will not only quench the thirst of Bengaldom, but it will also give the offense the momentum and confidence that they need going into the regular season.
Other players to take note of in the final preseason game is linebacker, Dontay Moch, who has been an offensive tackle’s worst nightmare this preseason. He has been using his blazing speed to get around the edge and attack the passer with brutal force. He will miss the first four regular season games this year because of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, but he will most certainly be utilized this season as an edge pass rusher in certain packages. Keep an eye on defensive end, Jamaal Anderson as well. If Geathers and Dunlap are not ready for the regular season opener, he will be the starter at defensive end opposite Michael Johnson. Finally, corners, Terence Newman and Nate Clements will be interesting to watch early in the game. Newman has been playing well to date and it would be nice to see him continue on that pace. Clements has lost a step and could be utilized at safety at times this season. Also, Leon Hall is still recovering from his Achilles injury and fans will get to see if he has shaken off some more rust since his last outing.
This preseason game does not mean much at all to most teams, however, the Bengals have enough intriguing story lines going on to make it an interesting game to watch. It will be fun to see how everything unfolds and who ultimately makes the final 53-man roster. Be sure to check out the game on Thursday night and hope for the best that the Bengals can come out healthy.
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