4 observations from the Bengals’ preseason loss to Washington
Bengals Observations – Free agent additions make huge impact on D
Going against their typical offseason tradition, the Bengals spent big in free agency for the second year in a row in 2021. With their focus seemingly being on bolstering the defense, the Bengals signed Trey Hendrickson, Chidobe Awuzie, and Mike Hilton all to multi-year contracts. In the Bengals’ loss to Washington, all three players stood out as the first-team defense dominated the opposing offense.
Hendrickson came into Cincinnati with big shoes to fill, as he was signed to replace fan-favorite Carl Lawson, who had been the team’s top pass rusher in 2020. Through two preseason games, Hendrickson looks like he may just be up to the task.
The former New Orleans Saint beat out tough competition in Brandon Scherff to get pressure and a hit on Ryan Fitzpatrick, though the sack was ultimately awarded to Sam Hubbard, the two defenders both got to the veteran quarterback at about the same time. Regardless of who got there first, this is the second week in a row where Hendrickson’s presence has been felt by the opposing quarterback.
Considered by many to be one of the most impressive players out of training camp, Awuzie turned heads again when he locked up Terry McLaurin on a deep shot from Fitzpatrick to the end zone. Awuzie had McLaurin as covered as he possibly could and even had a shot at an interception on the play. Even without picking the ball off, Awuzie’s ability to put the clamps on one of the league’s brightest young stars at wide receiver should be enough to get even the most cynical fans excited.
Even Hilton got in on the action by recovering a fumble that was forced by second-year linebacker Logan Wilson. While the majority of the credit goes to Wilson for his great effort in getting the ball on the ground, Hilton was at the right place at the right time and jumped on it, giving the Bengals the turnover.
The Bengals’ first-team defense still hasn’t given up a single point through two weeks of preseason football, and the new additions of Hendrickson, Awuzie, and Hilton are a large factor in that. With these new tools at his disposal, the defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo could finally put a solid defense together in his third year with the Bengals.
Cincinnati’s final preseason game comes against the Dolphins next Sunday.