3 under-the-radar Bengals who must contribute vs. Vikings

Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Bengals
D.J. Reader, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

The Cincinnati Bengals need their stars to step up against the Vikings, but just as important are these three under-the-radar players who will need to elevate their play to help the Bengals win. Expectations are a mixed bag for Cincinnati and a lot of where the Bengals end up will depend on the key role players fulfilling their responsibilities.

Obviously, on the great teams are the players that everyone knows — Patrick Mahomes, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and so many other great players have been able to elevate entire teams. What each team that makes a run to the Super Bowl has in addition to stars, are the players who quietly get their job done. They may not sit in the limelight, but their efforts are key factors in winning football games.

This is a group Cincinnati has not had a strong pool of in a long time. Mostly the Bengals have star players or liabilities, but this year could see a few of those holes filled. Here are the unheralded players that absolutely need to step up to give the Bengals the best shot at winning.

Under-the-radar Bengals vs. Vikings – No. 3: D.J. Reader

It’s not often that the biggest free-agent signing in a franchise’s history can be considered under-the-radar, but after a season lost to injury that is exactly what D.J. Reader has become. Reader joined the team in the hopes that he could become the solution to the Bengals’ problems stopping the run. Early last season, however, he went down with an injury that sidelined him all year.

This will be a big game for Reader to make his mark. Not just because he is coming back after a lost season, but because the Vikings are sure to rely on Dalvin Cook as their primary mode of attack. If the Vikings can run all through the middle of the defense, Cincinnati could be in for a very long afternoon.

Reader does not need to have a lot of stats to be successful, but look to see if he is creating penetration and altering the flow of run plays. This will be a huge win by Reader but likely allow a different player to make the tackle. Reader is one of the most important players on the field on Sunday.