5 matchups to watch during Bengals preseason opener vs. Cardinals
The preseason kicks off for the Cincinnati Bengals on Friday, as they’ll host the Arizona Cardinals. What matchups should the fans be keeping their eyes on?
The Cincinnati Bengals begin their preseason action on Friday against the Arizona Cardinals. It will see several intriguing battles as roster spots are up for grabs.
While the stars of both teams will be limited, it will give us an insight into those fighting for a backend roster spot. With training camp narratives slowly establishing themselves, it’s finally an opportunity for the players to suit up for some real game time.
Interestingly, Arizona released a depth chart tailored to the game this week, giving us a good idea of the players who will see action. With that in mind, our first matchup is a Bengals back looking to move up the depth chart and a Cardinals linebacker with plenty to prove.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference unless stated.
Chris Evans vs Zaven Collins
Chris Evans should have a legitimate shot at the RB2 slot this preseason. He can expect a decent workload on Friday evening with Joe Mixon likely rested. Evans’ dual-threat ability as a runner and pass-catcher has excited onlookers in training camp so far.
He could be the Bengals’ most versatile attacking weapon considering he has lined up in the slot, backfield, and returns kicks. Fans can expect to see him early on and get reps against the more experienced Cardinals defenders.
Lining up across from Evans will be Arizona’s first-round selection from 2021. Zaven Collins is penciled in to start on Friday, a surprise given he is considered a regular season starter for the Cards.
The suggestion is that Collins needs to show progression after a slow rookie year. Collins only started six games and contributed 25 tackles through last year. At 6’4″ and 260 pounds, he may get more reps on the edge, but if he wants to stick at off-ball linebacker, he needs to prove himself in coverage against running backs like Evans.
This battle will be critical to see if the Bengals can get the ground game going and also if they can attack the middle of the field and expose Collins in pass coverage.