If there's one thing we've learned this season, it's that depth is key. The Cincinnati Bengals have been more fortunate than most when it comes to injuries, however, that doesn't mean they've been squeaky clean. They've had key players miss multiple games this season, guys like Ja'Marr Chase, Joe Mixon, Chidobe Awuzie (whose injury was season-ending), and potentially two more guys following the Browns game in Tyler Boyd and Trey Hendrickson.
However, despite losing these impact Bengals, Cincinnati has managed to sustain their success -- and even improve as they are currently riding a five-game winning streak -- and a big reason for that is the guys who have come off the bench and made the most of the opportunities they've been given, helping the Bengals continue their winning ways as they make their push to the playoffs and give them a chance to win the division for the second year in a row.
In this article I'm going to highlight some of these depth pieces that have been the most important, doing an excellent job of filling in for injured starters and helping the Bengals keep themselves well above .500 after a rocky start to the season.
Irwin has been a good story for the Bengals in a year full of good stories. Coming out of Stanford, Irwin went undrafted in the 2019 draft before signing with Miami and eventually ending up with the Bengals. Unfortunately for Irwin, he saw himself occupying a spot on the practice squad more than he would on the active roster.
That was until this year. He saw extremely scarce playing time in '20 and '21, however this past season, with Ja'Marr Chase injuring his hip against the Falcons and missing the following weeks, Trenton Irwin was thrust into action and made the most of his opportunities. It took the Stanford product a while to get going, though he finally had a breakout game against the Steelers in Week 11, catching three passes for 42 yards and his very first career touchdown.
He had a nice catch against Tennessee as well, but the next week -- against a team who was quickly becoming a new rival for the Bengals in the Chiefs -- marked Chase's return, and so, Irwin's offensive snap count dropped from 52 down to just nine.
However, Irwin got another opportunity yet again the very next week vs. the Browns, as both Higgins and Boyd were injured early, Higgins having been apparently dealing with a nagging hamstring injury from practice. Trenton Irwin had arguably his best performance yet, catching two passes for 58 yards, most of those yards coming from a long touchdown on a successfully-run flea flicker.
The Bengals' 'Big Three' of wideouts is already great, but there's a sense of relief knowing the team has a guy like Trenton Irwin on the bench, ready to go out there in case any of them go down.