6 Bengals whose stock rose significantly after Week 2 of preseason

Kendric Pryor, Cincinnati Bengals. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
Kendric Pryor, Cincinnati Bengals. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports /

The Cincinnati Bengals played their second preseason game at MetLife Stadium on Sunday against the New York Giants. The Giants walked away with the win and defeated the Bengals 25-22.

Airing on the side of caution, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor decided to sit most of his starters throughout the preseason, thus allowing everyone else to show off their abilities in hopes of making the 53-man roster.  On the other hand, the Giants played most of their starters, allowing the Bengal coaching staff to observe individual match-ups of players trying to make the team.

Bengals players who shined on offense

Cordell Volson made his left guard debut in the second half of last week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals. Many fans had hoped to see him move up and start in this week’s game against the Giants, mainly after Volson played so well in his first game.

Jackson Carman, who started last week’s game, tested positive for COVID-19 this week, opening up the door for Volson to take the majority of first-team reps in practice and start the game against the Giants.

Volson had another solid performance, making his case for why he should be the starter at left guard. He had some nice positive run blocks while firing off the ball including at the goal line, where he blew his man off the ball, allowing running back Jacques Patrick to score a touchdown.  He demonstrated that he could hold his own against starters at a higher talent level.

I would not be surprised to see Volson working with the first team in the dual practice with the Rams.

Chris Evans has been fantastic for the Bengals as their kickoff returner. He had nine returns during the playoff run last season and averaged 23.4 yards per return during that stretch.

He shined in last week’s game against the Cardinals, but you would never know it from the stat sheet. He had a 60-yard run, a 5-yard run, a 12-yard reception, plus a touchdown, all called back because of penalties.

Against the Giants, he exhibited his athletic abilities with his explosive running style. Receiving the ball on the left side of the field, he bounced his way all the way to the right, demonstrating his natural speed. It turned out to be a 77-yard return, nearly shaking off one tackler for the touchdown.

His vision and ability to make people miss have all but summed up this position as his own. His role will be to create great field positions for the offense which as we know can be a difference-maker in a game.

Undrafted free agent receiver Kendric Pryor made the most of his opportunity in his first preseason game with a game-high four grabs for 89 receiving yards and a touchdown. Pryor caught the attention of the fans when he made an incredible one-handed catch resulting in a 28-yard gain.

Pryor’s performance was so stellar in last week’s game that Pro Football graded him as the top receiver last week, giving him a receiving grade of 92.0 and an overall offensive grade of 92.5.  So you can see why fans were excited about what he would do for an encore.

In his second preseason game, Pryor caught four catches for 28-yards coming up big when you need him. The other receiver who was quiet last week but made his debut against the Giants was Kwamie Lassiter.

Lassiter, who is fighting for one of the last roster spots at receiver, has proven he can create space and catch most passes that come his way. He ended the Giants game with seven targets for 91 yards which is impressive for an undrafted rookie. Look for both Pryor and Lassiter to make a case for making the team, for both are gifted athletes. This should certainly ease the minds of the fans that were worried about depth at the receiver position.

Bengals players who shined on defense

When you draft players in the first round, you can only hope that your scouts did their job well enough so that the player you selected lives up to their potential. Safety Daxton Hill did just that in his first preseason game by nearly picking off the ball for an interception and leaving fans wanting more.

Hill has gone out and impressed for the second week in a row. He consistently played tough against the Giant’s starters, showing his acceleration speed by breaking up a pass play that led to a turnover on downs only to turn around and pick off an interception from a tipped ball. His man coverage was excellent as defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo moved him all over the field, which exhibited his versatility. Hill continues to prove that he will make an impact this season.

If you looked up the quote “playing their hearts out,” you would find linebacker Clay Johnston’s name next to it. Johnston was a ball of fire during the game moving sideline to sideline. He finished the game with an impressive 20 tackles, one sack, one tackle for loss, and a quarterback hit. Talk about making the best of your opportunities.

Add in his special team’s contributions, like last year when he stopped Titans running back Derrick Henry during a 2-point conversion attempt in the playoffs. Johnston is finally coming into his own while finding his niche on the team.

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As for this upcoming week, Zac Taylor plans to have all his starters participate in the two-day controlled practice with the Los Angeles Rams. The goal is to keep the starters healthy and fresh before the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers, so do not expect any starters to play in the final preseason game on Saturday.