5 most important players on Bengals roster who are not starters

Chris Evans, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
Chris Evans, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Bengals
Chris Evans, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

3.  Chris Evans, Running Back

Despite having a three-down skill set, the Bengals’ staff just doesn’t seem to like leaving Joe Mixon out there on third down. That’s the team’s opportunity to give him a breather, so that’s where we see Samaje Perine.

Yes, that Samaje Perine. The one who almost fumbled away the Titans game in the playoffs, and the dude who came up short on the final drive of the Super Bowl. There are a lot of reasons to think Perine doesn’t have a stranglehold on the third-down job. After all, in the biggest moments, he didn’t perform.

There are rumblings that Chris Evans (a/k/a Captain America) could beat out Perine for that third-down role in training camp, and it wouldn’t be all that surprising. His calling card coming out of Michigan was his pass-catching chops.

If the team believes that they can trust him in pass pro, he seems to offer a little bit more juice as an athlete than Perine does at this stage of his career. Perine isn’t likely to get cut, mind you; the depth chart is perilously thin behind Evans (all due respect to Elijah Holyfield and Trayveon Williams).  But if the goal is to surround Joe Burrow with as many weapons as possible, it seems as though the offense would be more explosive with Evans’ dynamic pass-catching ability out there than Perine’s plodding power.

Alternatively, if Joe Mixon were to suffer an injury, you would assume that the Bengals would go with a 1-2 punch of Perine and Evans, with Perine handling the early-down work and Evans handling the passing situations.

With as often as running backs get injured in the NFL (knock on wood), it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Bengals have to go with the Perine-Evans tandem as their primary ball carriers for a stretch or two this season.