Cincinnati Bengals Preseason Week 1 – What to Watch
5. Don’t ignore the battles on special teams
Never underestimate the importance of special teams. They are the group that has the ability to shift momentum quickly. This preseason will be particularly intriguing, considering the Bengals are in the midst of another kicking battle.
Randy Bullock famously displaced fifth-rounder Jake Elliott in 2017, and this year’s fifth-round choice Evan McPherson faces a similar battle against veteran Austin Seibert. Thankfully, this time around, things have gone more to plan in camp.
McPherson has been ultra-reliable so far, and the hope is if he can prove to be so under the lights, the starting job is all his. Elsewhere in the special teams’ group, jockeying for a roster spot will be fierce.
Pooka Williams’ size has meant a position shift from running back to wide receiver, but his clearest path to the final 53 will be to show some spark in the return game. Fellow rookie running back Chris Evans will also have to display value on special teams to wrestle a spot off Trayveon Henderson.
Another player to watch keenly is Thad Moss. Being Joe Burrow’s teammate in college won’t be enough to secure a roster spot. He will be compared to the likes of Mason Shreck, Mitchell Wilcox and Pro Wells. As TE3 on the roster, special teams will mean a lot to that group.
Finally, watch for No. 49, Joe Bachie — The linebacker out of Michigan State arrives via the Eagles. In a thin linebacker group, a work-hard, strong-hitting player like Bachie may have enough value to be a surprise inclusion come cut-down day.
These are just a few things to watch when the Bengals take the field for their first glimpse of action for the 2021 season. What will you be watching for?