Cincinnati Bengals: Three Players to Watch
Jun 16, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Rex Burkhead (33) carries the ball during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals are entering 2015 with a do or die mentality, and with a number of key players to hit the market after this upcoming season, it almost looks that way too. Young players will need to step up to show that they are ready for their chance, and some, like Dre Kirkpatrick, are playing for their future with the Bengals and the NFL.
Darqueze Dennard, CB
Darqueze Dennard has more talent potential than most second year players in the league. As he enter the 2015 campaign, the Bengals 2014 first round draft pick is looking to not only earn playing time, but earn a starting spot on this depth chart. Bengals fans were excited with how the rookie out of Michigan State was getting hyped about his growth and potential in camp last year.
He enters this season with high expectations, most of which he is placing on himself. The exit of Terence Newman has created a opening on the depth chart and with that an opportunity for more playing time for Dennard. If he can prove himself to be ready in training camp, it might leave Leon Hall on the list of available free agents after the 2015 season.
Rex Burkhead, RB/WR
Rex Burkhead was seen as the next man up when his number was called last season, so when he caught seven passes for 49 yards, and rushed nine times for 27 yards including a touchdown. They needed to find more ways to get him involved in the short passing game, including making him a utility back and even Coley Harvey of ESPN.com thinks it is a good idea as well,
"Regularly this spring, Burkhead appeared in the slot. He looked impressive, too, running routes and catch passes with safeties and corners lined up against him."
He is definitely lining up to not only make the 53-man roster, he is looking to make some noise on the field as well. Something he finally got to do last season due to an injury to Giovani Bernard.
Tyler Kroft, TE
Tyler Kroft is a rookie out of Rutgers but will already be a key to the offensive success. Tyler Eifert was injured in week 1 of the NFL season in 2014 and hasn’t seen game action since. Kroft will essentially replace Jermaine Gresham, who is still searching for a team in free agency.
Kroft’s impact beside Eifert will be noted by Bengals fans and media out of the gate. He will especially draw some comparison to Gresham, who most fans had a love-hate relationship with during his tenure in stripes. If Kroft provides a boost to the position, he will be warmly welcomed, at least for his rookie contract.
There are plenty of players we could have put on this list but these three show the promise and drive to become better and steal some time on the field. Taking it a step further, they could hold the future to this organization, if the Bengals can not secure all of their top free agents in 2016.