Bengals: Preseason Week 1 Takeaways

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Aug 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green (18) on the sidelines during the second quarter of a preseason NFL football game against the New York Giants at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports


Andy Dalton had a nice outing, completing all three of his passes for 31 yards and a touchdown. He hooked up with A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Mohamed Sanu, all three of whom should be Dalton’s top targets in the upcoming season.

But the real star at quarterback was Josh Johnson. Johnson has shown major progress since he last donned the stripes in 2013. He went 11-for-21 with 175 passing yards and racked up 37 rushing yards on six carries. Although Johnson maybe ran two too many times, he did a great job of looking to see if his receivers were open before taking off with the football. And Johnson gained a first down or two with his feet to keep the drive going.

The Bengals will have a tough decision to make in deciding whether or not to keep A.J. McCarron on the roster if he can’t see any preseason action for the second straight season. Johnson is playing really well and should at least give McCarron a hint of competition for the backup quarterback position.

Running Back

Ryan Hewitt looked like his normal self, making some huge blocks and paving the way for Jeremy Hill as the sophomore running back took two carries for 15 yards on the Bengals’ opening drive.

And while Jeremy Hill looked good, Giovani Bernard struggled. Bernard only managed to pick up five yards on four carries and looked incredibly indecisive when returning punts.

Rex Burkhead looks like he will have a bigger role in Cincinnati’s offense this season; he–not Marvin Jones–lined up in the slot on the opening drive, which seemed like a bit of a surprise. Burkhead gained 23 yards on four carries before leaving the game with a neck injury.

When Burkhead left the game, Cedric Peerman entered the game. Despite dropping an open pass, Peerman had a nice reception that went for eighteen yards and added 11 yards rushing on three carries. However, Peerman came out of the game with a knee injury that looked significant.

With Burkhead and Peerman out, James Wilder Jr. embraced his opportunity, tallying 14 carries for 53 yards and a touchdown. Rookie free agent Terrell Watson also contributed, racking up 52 rushing yards on just seven carries. And while Cincinnati has experimented with Wilder Jr. as a fullback hybrid, Watson looks better suited for the position. He’s bigger than Wilder Jr., and he looked more explosive last night, averaging 7.4 yards per carry while Wilder Jr. was held to a short gain or less on 10 plays (four of those being runs for no gain or a loss). If Peerman’s injury is serious, Watson could sneak onto the Bengals’ roster with continued explosive play.

Wide Receiver

Aug 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Greg Little (11) makes a catch in the second half against the New York Giants in a preseason NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

A.J. Green had a couple of nice catches on the Bengals’ first drive, but Cincinnati’s reserve receivers were the players who really made the biggest impact in this matchup.

Although he did not start in the slot, Marvin Jones had a nice 17-yard catch on the night and looked healthy, which is always a plus.

With James Wright waived after suffering a season-ending injury, Cincinnati has been looking for a receiver to step up and prove himself as a viable replacement option. And Bengals fans received great news on this front.

First of all, Brandon Tate, a player notorious for being the punching bag of Bengals fans, dropped an easy pass. He also elected not to return the kickoff or punt that came his way while Mario Alford made a couple of nice plays in the return game. This could lead to Tate’s decline, which would likely delight Bengals fans who have had enough with mediocrity.

Second, Greg Little and Denarius Moore showed up to play. Little had the bigger impact on the night, catching three passes for 65 yards, including a beautiful 42-yard reception. Little also set a key block in a 20-yard run play. However, Denarius Moore had a great night as well, catching a 30-yard pass and drawing a pass interference call deep downfield. Bengals fans will be eager to see whether these two receivers can keep up the production in Cincinnati’s remaining preseason games.

Finally, Mario Alford showed some promise. He had a nice punt return and took an end around for a 23 yards on the Bengals’ most beautiful play of the night, courtesy of Hue Jackson.

Tight End

Tyler Eifert looked healthy and quick in his return, which is an exciting sight to see for Bengals fans. He caught two passes for 30 yards and had a couple of nice blocks in the running game.

Tyler Kroft didn’t have a huge night in the passing game, but he is more of a blocking tight end anyways. His only target was batted down by a linebacker in zone coverage before Kroft even had a chance to make a play on the ball.

C.J. Uzomah and Jake Kumerow looked pretty decent on the field too, catching a combined three passes for 17 yards. Uzomah, however, had an ugly play in which he was open downfield but didn’t look for the ball. The result was a pass that hit Uzomah on the back in the red zone, a play that could have potentially been a touchdown.

Offensive Line

Andre Smith took the night off and Andrew Whitworth only played in the first drive, but the first team looked solid. Eric Winston picked up a false start call, but the line opened up some big holes in the running game and did a great job pass-blocking for Dalton and Johnson in the two opening drives. On the first drive, every play went for positive yards–an impressive feat.

However, the backups on the O-line struggled; Johnson took a couple of sacks, while six Bengals rushing attempts were shut down in the backfield. Despite the inconsistency, the backups played pretty well, considering the limited experience in the position group.

Next: Defense