Unsung heroes for the Bengals during the first 11 games of the 2022 season

By Christopher Kokaliares
Cincinnati Bengals v Dallas Cowboys
Cincinnati Bengals v Dallas Cowboys / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
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The D-Line Depth Pieces

There are a lot of areas where the Bengals struggle with having good depth (Cornerback, safety, and the offensive line just to name a few). However, the defensive line (and I can also say wide receiver after seeing Trenton Irwin's performance vs. the Steelers) is one spot where depth has proven to be great.

Cincy fans were worried when D.J. Reader, one of the best run-stuffers in the NFL, went down in Week 3 and would be put on injured reserve after suffering an MCL sprain in their win over the Jets. While it's understandable to be worried about his injury, as you can't quite replace Reader's production or presence, the depth pieces on this defensive line did a great job stepping up in his absence.

One player who's been an exceptionally good pickup and done well in the few opportunities he's been given is Jay Tufele, a defensive tackle the Bengals claimed off the waiver wire after the Jaguars released the fourth-round pick. He's been a nice piece of this defensive line, especially in the first two games in that he actually got to see some action.

With Reader's return, his snap numbers have noticeably dropped (going from 20-30 a game to just eight against the Steelers), which is to be expected, but it's good to have that extra security there in case Reader or someone else like B.J. Hill happens to go down with an injury.

Aside from Tufele, other depth pieces include Zach Carter, Joseph Ossai, and Cam Sample, who have all been called into the game and have put forward their efforts to help stop the run and bring pressure to opposing quarterbacks. And, while he's been injured for the last month or so, Tupou is another solid rotational lineman.

Overall, this team has several positions where I'd consider depth to be an issue, but they're surprisingly well-prepared for the inevitable injuries that will occur on the D-line.

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