Three takeaways from the Bengals’ Sunday scrimmage
After the Cincinnati Bengals’ “third pre-season game’ on Sunday, there are plenty of takeaways to carry into the regular season.
Head coach Zac Taylor and the Cincinnati Bengals opted to use Sunday’s scrimmage as a mock for the third preseason game. In a regular year, the contest is usually considered a dress rehearsal for the starters to prepare for the week one regular-season matchup.
It’s often one of the most useful events for fans to gather information as well as gauge the strengths and weaknesses of their team. Although this year’s training camp has certainly been unique, it’s no different in that plenty of takeaways can be drawn from yesterday’s game-like scenario.
The defensive line is getting their hands on the ball
The defensive line has been the strength of the Bengals for years and things are looking no different heading into the upcoming campaign. Despite losing a number of players along the interior, Geno Atkins, D.J. Reader, and Mike Daniels appear to be more than enough to keep the unit strong.
That trio should free up Carlos Dunlap, Sam Hubbard, and Carl Lawson to run free and accumulate more sacks than they have in the past. While the pass rush has the makings to be lethal, in Sunday’s scrimmage, it was the pass deflections that stood out.
The guys along the trenches were able to bat the ball down a number of times, something defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo took note of,
"“We’ve been preaching getting our hands on balls and we got a bunch of footballs batted at the line”"
Batting balls at the line is a useful tool to add but it’s often only consistently been done by Dunlap. If the entire D-line can develop a habit of knocking passes down, as they did in Sunday’s scrimmage, it will help out the inexperienced linebacker corps. as well as the secondary that has suffered a number of injuries.
The Joe Burrow to Tyler Boyd connection is strong
It has long been speculated that Joe Burrow and Tyler Boyd could quickly build a strong connection after the numbers Burrow put up with his collegiate slot receiver, Justin Jefferson. That line of thinking has turned into a reality.
The duo has consistently performed well together and they did so again on Sunday. According to ESPN’s Ben Baby, Boyd led all receivers in terms of receiving yards and hauled in a touchdown pass.
With any luck, the chemistry the two have built in training camp will carry over to the regular season. If it does, Boyd could finally get the recognition he deserves and Burrow will hit the ground running.
Under-the-radar players continue to make 53-man roster push
One of the biggest surprises of camps has been wide receiver, Mike Thomas. He’s often been mentioned as a reliable target for Burrow throughout practice and he showed up again during the scrimmage. He came in third in terms of total receiving yards, right behind Boyd and Uzomah.
His speed and special teams ability continue to give him an added advantage in a crowded receiving room. Although he initially seemed to be on the outside looking in, he’s done everything he can for the front office to seriously consider keeping him on the 53-man roster.
Outside of Thomas, former XFL running back Jacques Patrick also appears to be getting plenty of snaps. He’s certainly earned it after putting up some impressive performances in training camp so far.
Combine that with the fact that Rodney Anderson is no longer in the picture, and there’s reason to believe Patrick could end up being the squad’s fourth and final running back for the 2020 season.