Week 4 was supposed to be a cruise game for the Bengals. But, there are still a few more questions to cross off the board.
This will be the final tune-up before the Bengals have to gear up for the real deal on September 10. The dress rehearsal against Washington went as planned. The first-teamers came out firing and looked like the team Bengals fans have been waiting for. Now, it’s time to look at what the backups are capable of doing and getting limited snaps for the rookies who need a better look from Marvin Lewis & Co.
The Washington game may not have ended the way Bengals faithful wanted. But, it was a game that actually ended at halftime. Each item that needed to be checked off for the offense and defense was answered. And that was a relief for players and coaches holding their breath.
This will be the last chance for many of the rookies to have a shot at making an NFL roster. Whether it’s for the Bengals or putting enough on film for another team, players will try to shine. The 53-man roster will be the holy grail and the youngsters will be at their best.
Still Think McCarron Is The One?
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Even though the emphasis will be on getting a better look at the rookies, there could be some extended playing time for AJ McCarron. In the past two weeks, he’s looked out of sorts. True, it’s the preseason. But, this is the QB that was a couple of fouls and a defensive stand away from winning the AFC Wild Card game.
After being tossed about on the rumor mill for trades, McCarron seems to have lost his luster. Against the Redskins, McCarron tossed a pick-6. In the heat of the battle, he looked as if he didn’t have a grasp on what offensive coordinator Ken Zampese wanted him to do. That’s not the play of a quarterback that was so coveted during the offseason. If he wants to improve his chances of unseating Andy Dalton, this is his last chance.
Jeff Driskel will be on display as well. There could be a slight chance the Bengals carry three quarterbacks into the season. But, if they suddenly decide to make a move (ala Marquis Flowers), a breakout performance from him could make the Bengals feel good about letting McCarron slide down the depth chart. Driskel was a scramble away from pulling off another come-from-behind victory in Week 3.
Who’s Next On D?
Hybrid end/linebacker Carl Lawson looked incredible against the Redskins. His ability to get to the quarterback hasn’t diminished since college. Frankly, he made Pro Bowler Trent Williams look like he needed help stopping him. In other words, Lawson had Trent shooketh.
Nick Vigil will probably be the man to replace Burfict’s spot calling the defensive plays. He’s been absorbing the playbook like a sponge. But, there’s also the talented and capable Vincent Rey. During Burfict’s absence in 2016, Rey filled in admirably.
The Running Backs
The starting role is still to be determined. Jeremy Hill had the clear-cut path to the spot as the veteran. But, after injuring his ankle in Week 3, the waiting game is in effect. Hill played hurt last season and wasn’t as productive.
Joe Mixon may get a few touches to get the kinks out for Baltimore. Giovani Bernard looked good in his limited action against Jay Gruden’s Gang. Tra Carson has rushed for 60 yards on 17 carries during the preseason. The injury to Cedric Peerman could be his ticket to the roster. But, his one lone carry against Washington leads to speculation of an injury.