Bengals Starters Preparing For A Primetime Tune-up

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Nov 2, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Dwayne Gratz (27) tackles Cincinnati Bengals tight end Ryan Hewitt (89) in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati defeated Jacksonville 33-23. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 2, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars cornerback Dwayne Gratz (27) tackles Cincinnati Bengals tight end Ryan Hewitt (89) in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati defeated Jacksonville 33-23. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Bengals will be under the bright lights of primetime, when they face the Jacksonville Jaguars. This is their tune-up for the real thing.

With less than three weeks to go before the real deal, the Cincinnati Bengals are preparing for primetime. Sunday night will be a major tune-up. Look for the starters to get more reps and transitional players to put forth more effort. It won’t be in vain. It’s time to shave the roster again. In order to reclaim the North, Cincinnati will need to keep the right warriors.

It all starts with the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. What may seem like a meaningless game to casual fans is of the utmost importance to Bengals Nation. Sunday’s game under the bright lights will help Marvin Lewis and Co. filter the roster on additional criteria. Who’s ready to give a show. Who wants to wear the crown of a divisional champion.

Games one and four of the preseason are usually trash games. Those battles are not completely worthless. But, the majority of the playing time is dominated by rookies and bubble players. Week 3 is when the starters are matched against the opponent’s top-notch players. Coaches will be paying close attention to detail.

With so many nagging injuries, the key will be staying healthy. Personal pain barriers will be pushed to the limit. Players will need to come out with the hearts of tigers…Bengal tigers. It’s time to get the season in gear. Two games remain until the start of AFC domination.

The Sunday Night Football showcase will be important. Even though it’s not the start of the regular season, the game will be in primetime. When the Bengals and Jags hit the field, they will be on center stage. Last year, the Orange and Black was dismal under the stars. Cincinnati promptly lost three of their four night games.

The demons must be exorcised, in order for things to change. Under the Lewis regime, the Bengals have struggled in games after the sun sets. The intensity of the battle with Jacksonville may not seem important, but it truly is. The matchup will be a dress rehearsal for the starters to get a feel for the coaches under stressful conditions.

Cincinnati Bengals defense. Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Cincinnati Bengals defense. Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /

“It’s the dress rehearsal because we play more,” quarterback Andy Dalton explained. “We just need to make sure communicate well, move the ball offensively and look good as a unit.”

Marvin knows that the routine of just resting is coming to an end. The quick turnaround will expose who is willing to get to that championship level.

“Now, we’ve had a couple days of good practice, and yesterday a day off, and these three to four days prior to the game are good for us as well. It’s also helpful for the young players, new players, and the draft picks particularly, to get a feel for what the regular season schedule will be like. Those are positives.”

Brandon LaFell will definitely see action. He’s a key piece in the Bengals offense. LaFell’s job is to be an opposite side threat.  A.J. Green should benefit from his presence. Since suffering ligament damage in his hand, he hasn’t seen action. But, Lewis and Ken Zampese will be making him Dalton’s main target.

The plan will be to figure out the D-line rotation. Andrew Billings is a definite scratch and Pat Sims will need to show up. There’s definitely no room for spotty play. Expect to see Margus Hunt roaming the field for an extended period. Expect a decision on Hunt and Will Clarke.

Sunday’s game may not mean much in terms of the preseason, but it’s an important tune-up. The Bengals will get a chance to prove they can be entertaining and consistent under pressure and the bright lights.

Next: Speed Kills

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