It’s been clear all season that Zac Taylor and his staff are unhappy with the linebacker group they inherited. After a disappointing start to the season from the unit, they cut ties with veteran linebacker Preston Brown and allowed rookie Germaine Pratt to absorb more playing time.
He started off slow, but as you can see in the graphic above via @JoeGoodberry, Pratt has made steady improvements each week. There should be a lot of hope that he can continue this upward trend as he gets more experience. He has all the tools to maintain his uptick in play.
It will be important that he continues to do so. As things stand right now, he may be the only current linebacker to return next season. If that’s the case, he will be leaned upon heavily to lead the position group
Even if the team brings back Nick Vigil, defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has been forced to only field two linebackers at a time due to the lack of depth. If Pratt and Vigil can lock down two spots, perhaps the team can find one more viable starter. This would allow them to play three linebackers in a more traditional defensive scheme and open up the potential on that side of the ball.
The North Carolina native is the brightest spot in one of the teams weakest positions. If the Bengals are going to return to the playoffs next season, Pratt will need to have a breakout campaign.