Bengals News

Bengals: Preseason Week 1 Takeaways

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Aug 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New York Giants quarterback Ryan Nassib (12) is sacked by Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Will Clarke (93) in the second half in a preseason NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 23-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive Line

Carlos Dunlap looked great against New York, blasting by former Bengal Marshall Newhouse to record a tackle for loss. He also blew by the Giants’ line again, hurrying Eli Manning and forcing the quarterback to throw the ball out of bounds to avoid being sacked.

Michael Johnson sat out after suffering an MCL sprain, but his replacement did not make much of an impact; Wallace Gilberry’s name wasn’t called all game long.

At defensive tackle, things are looking like they’re back to normal. Geno Atkins finally looks like himself for the first time since 2013, while Domata Peko was nowhere to be found, as always.

In the battle to back up Atkins and Peko, Brandon Thompson and Pat Sims looked good. Thompson assisted on a tackle for loss against the run, while Sims absolutely crushed Giants running back Andre Williams behind the line of scrimmage on another play and recorded four combined tackles. Although Sims had a neutral infraction and looked very slow getting to the quarterback, he’s solid against the run and should make the roster. Thompson is one of Cincinnati’s most underrated players and will almost certainly make the roster; the Bengals need to lock him up long-term immediately, as he could have a big year this season and could eventually replace Domata Peko.

Aug 14, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; New York Giants quarterback Ryan Nassib (12) is hit by Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Will Clarke (93) as he throws a pass in the first half in a preseason NFL football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Devon Still has become a Cincinnati fan favorite and looks much slimmer after an offseason on working towards getting in shape. However, his only memorable play was a neutral zone infraction, which did not sit well with coaches. He will have to show more progress in order to earn a spot; the Bengals would have to cut Margus Hunt, Josh Johnson or another young prospect if Still were to earn a position on the final roster.

The Bengals’ two project players of the past two years had some success against New York and are looking much better than Margus Hunt. Marcus Hardison had a great game, recording three solo tackles, one of which was a huge sack on Ryan Nassib. He’s a huge player but has deceptive speed for a defensive tackle of his size. And although Will Clarke showed a tendency to rely on his spin move just a little too often, he managed to bring down Ryan Nassib as the quarterback looked to run (although the play was called back due to a holding penalty).

Although most Bengals fans expect Margus Hunt to have a roster spot in the upcoming season, I would be surprised if he made the team. He’s injury prone and inexperienced despite his 28 years of age. Cincinnati would be much better suited relying on Will Clarke and Marcus Hardison and giving Devon Still a chance rather than waiting on Hunt to pan out.

Linebacker

Nico Johnson had a great game for Cincinnati, compiling nine combined tackles. He was good in coverage and made a couple of nice plays against the run.

Marquis Flowers looked like a hothead; after a practice scuffle with Dan France earlier in the week, Flowers looked like he was about to start fighting a Giants lineman and draw a penalty of some sort. Luckily, Flowers walked away, but he looks a little immature on the field. Despite this, Flowers had a good game. He recorded six combined tackles and made a good pass defense in coverage.

A.J. Hawk and Rey Maualuga were nowhere to be found, as neither player managed to lay a hand on an opposing ball-carrier. Emmanuel Lamur recorded just one assisted tackle, while Paul Dawson recorded two solo tackles.

Linebacker continues to look like a position of weakness for Cincinnati, although the emergences of Nico Johnson and Marquis Flowers are nice for a team that could use all the linebacker help it can get.

Secondary

Cincinnati’s starting cornerbacks played great, not allowing a single catch by a Giants receiver–even Odell Beckham Jr.–on the opening drive.

And Cincinnati’s backup corners played just as well. Josh Shaw had a strong outing, recording a tackle on the opening kickoff, tallying four combined tackles and breaking up a pass as well. Troy Hill had a slow start and looked a bit confused on a pass that came his way; however, he managed to keep the receiver out of bounds on the play. He got comfortable later on in the game, recording three solo tackles and breaking up a pass in the end zone.

Cincinnati’s starting safeties did not allow any balls to come their way, proving their dominance as one of the best safety duos in the NFL.

However, the backups were relatively quiet, with Shiloh Keo recording four combined tackles, Derron Smith recording two solo tackles and Shawn Williams proving once again that he is still injury-prone.

Although Williams later returned to the game after suffering a hand injury, he will need to prove that he can stay on the field if he wants to keep his spot on the roster. Williams recorded four combined tackles on the night.

CincyJungle wrote an in-depth injury report after the Bengals’ victory, which you can find here if you’re interested. Stay tuned for more Bengals news, analysis, rankings and more.

Next: AFC North Positional Rankings: Offensive Line

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