4. Bengals’ Wide Receivers vs. Ravens’ Secondary
This concern mainly lies in all the receivers whose surnames do not rhyme with “Sheen.” With a group of largely inexperienced route runners, it is a safe assumption that they are not the most proficient at beating press-man coverage. With the offense’s timing-based routes, an inability to get off the line or get rerouted would wreak havoc on the passing game.
Once you factor in the sheer size of the Ravens’ cornerbacks, it will be a difficult task for the complimentary corps of Bengals receivers to create separation. By shifting motions and putting receivers in motion, Jay Gruden will devise ways to allow receivers to release without giving defenders too much leverage.
A.J. Green will require other receivers to pose a threat to the secondary in order to have a productive day. Despite his abundant skills, if Ed Reed shades towards him all day then Green’s production will be minimized. In their last meeting, when Green was held to 2 receptions for 26 yards, both Jermaine Gresham and Jerome Simpson reaped the benefits with 5 receptions each.
5. Bengals’ Secondary vs. Torrey Smith
On the one hand, Leon Hall’s getting back on the field more quickly than expected from his Achilles injury was great news for the Bengals’ cornerback unit. The other healthiest members thus far have been the two elder statesmen, Nate Clements and Terrence Newman.
On the other hand, Hall’s lingering effects may have been affecting his explosion out of breaks during this preseason based on some uncharacteristic play. Wide receiver Torrey Smith is a home run threat every time he touches the ball, and any corner covering Smith is going to need safety help over the top.
Although it was met with mixed reviews in the preseason, shifting Nate Clements to safety in nickel packages could come in useful for this situation.
A liberal use of Jeromy Miles and his outstanding physicality against slot receivers will continue to be employed in the hybrid role that we saw this preseason. Anquan Boldin is still running sharp routes, but his already suspect speed has all but left him.
The Ravens’ tight ends Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta both expected to be game time decisions. Providing great coverage one-on-one with Boldin would free up a safety to bracket Smith to shut down his ability to score from anywhere on the field.