As the starters get more playing time in this Week 3 matchup, the Bengals have to pay attention to these three players in particular.
The Bengals face off against the Bills later today, and they should feature their starters a little more. While it will be good to see the stars get some playing time, this game is more important for the fringe starters who need to secure their job heading into the year. Let’s take a look at three players in particular who need to have good games today to ensure they will get starter’s snaps this season.
Dennard’s role as a slot corner is safe, but there’s more opportunity for him following George Iloka’s release. Primarily, Iloka’s release opens up room for rookie Jessie Bates to start (who should also be under the microscope versus Buffalo). However, Dennard is in a unique position to see a bump in playing time as well.
The Bengals were looking at breaking out some three-safety sets at some point with Iloka, but that will presumably be put on hold for now. That leaves the door wide open for Dennard to step in when the Bengals want 5 defensive backs on the field. In fact, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Dennard on the field a majority of the time, regardless of whether he’s in the slot or not. If he shows out in the preseason, the Bengals will have to get him on the field more.
Further, Dennard is one of the players in line for an extension. While the Bengals have presumably (hopefully) been planning on extending Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins, Dennard is certainly a player the Bengals would like to have for the future. By freeing up over $8 million in cap space this week, the team may be looking to get the money to extend all three players. Dennard had better back that up with his play today.
Glasgow is another player who has benefitted from the release of a veteran. Now that Chris Baker is gone, Glasgow has a prime chance to get serious playing time on this team. While Andrew Billings has stood out as a nose tackle, Glasgow had been solid in the three and five-technique positions. That means he likely won’t start, but could see the field plenty as a rotation lineman.
The Bengals clearly have confidence in both Billings and Glasgow in order to release Baker. Billings has a defined role on this team, but Glasgow’s versatility may be more useful. Glasgow is effective against both the run and the pass, which means he could line up next to Atkins on any down and be fine. If Glasgow wants to secure a role for himself, he needs to have a solid game against the weak Buffalo O-line.
A camp standout, Boyd needs to back up his sterling practice performance on the field. So far, Boyd has been fine, but the hope this season was he could break out. The Bengals have to be looking to finalize their wide receiver rotation today, so expect to see a lot of Boyd, John Ross, Josh Malone, and Auden Tate.
Boyd, therefore, has a chance to separate himself. He has started to flash the ability to play both outside and in the slot, which would make him the most versatile receiver next to AJ Green. Ross and Malone could push for the job, and Tate has performed far above expectations, but it’s Boyd’s job to lose. He’ll have the chance to lock up the WR2 spot for good.