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Bengals: 5 things to watch in preseason Week 1 vs Buccaneers

Joe Mixon #28 of the Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
Joe Mixon #28 of the Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) runs a drill with linebacker Darius Hodge (44) – Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports
Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt (57) runs a drill with linebacker Darius Hodge (44) – Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports /

Cincinnati Bengals Preseason Week 1 – What to Watch

3. Will leadership emerge from the linebacker group?

The linebacker group is arguably one of the thinnest and least experienced on the roster. Last year, Josh Bynes was the battle-worn veteran, but the Bengals decided to roll the dice on youth and talent in 2021. That means that someone needs to step up and provide solid play while adopting a leadership role.

The leader in the clubhouse is Logan Wilson. He will inherit the green spot on his helmet, meaning he will be the on-field extension of the coaching staff via radio. Wilson should now be a true three-down ‘backer but will need support from elsewhere.

The Bengals will spend most of their time in nickel, meaning Germaine Pratt should see the most action on early downs. It was a disappointing year in 2020, particularly on run defense, where Pratt received a 29.3 grade from Pro Football Focus. Bengals’ coaches will want to see significant strides in play diagnosis, starting with handling Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette.

One name that has been catching buzz in camp is Markus Bailey. Without injury, the Purdue product likely would have been a high-round selection. Now another year removed from his ACL injury, Bailey could be a surprise package. His climb up the depth chart should begin sometime around the second half on Saturday.

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