Friday night’s game marks the first time the Bengals play in Washington since the day Joe Burrow suffered his season-ending knee injury. This time, however, he’ll be watching from the sidelines the entire game. Not just half of it. He’s healthy and ready to go but there’s just no point in playing him at this stage of the preseason.
Before diving into tomorrow’s game, though, a quick recap of last weekend’s game in Tampa Bay is needed. In the preview of that game, I went over some things to watch for. You can find those here.
- The long-awaited New Stripes look very clean on the players, especially under the lights. A refreshing upgrade was needed.
- Ja’Marr Chase wasn’t exactly asked to showcase any kind of separation in the one drive he played. The drive featured a mixture of runs and quick passes, one of which was a designed screen to Chase, who took it for 16 yards.
- The Bengals actually may have hit pay dirt in the pass rush department. I’ve questioned this aspect of the defense, but Joseph Ossai (who I mentioned) flashed early and often. He sacked Tom Brady on the first drive. Cameron Sample flashed late, and UDFA Darius Hodge was all over the field in the second half of the game.
- Chris Evans’ stat line does not tell his whole story. He looked very quick, shifty and just overall like an NFL running back in his debut. I wrote about a flaw that hurt Evans’ in college in our draft review and it looks like Bengals’ OC Brian Callahan agrees with me.
- The offensive line looked to play with a lot more chemistry than at any point last year. D’Ante Smith might be what we thought Jackson Carman would be. He’s pushing the coaching staff for a real shot at the starting job after grading as PFF’s 3rd highest rookie pass blocker in week 1 of the preseason. Carman on the other hand, looked heavy footed and out of shape at times.
- Evan McPherson has the kicking battle all but won. He split the uprights in each of his kicks and the ball just flies off of his foot. Seibert missed two kicks in Tuesday’s practice.
There was a lot to like about the first game this seemingly brand new Bengals team put together. Still, there’s plenty more we need to see.
Things to watch for:
- Joseph Ossai will not play after injuring his wrist late against the Bucs. Can Cam Sample show the team enough to earn some meaningful regular season snaps? Darius Hodge will also surely get more run after dominating last week. I’ll be watching to see if it was a fluke performance or if Hodge really is a diamond in the rough that the Bengals coaching staff was able to find.
- D’Ante Smith is going to be moved all over the field per OC Brian Callahan. He was pushing guys out of the screen almost routinely last week. It’s possible he’s playing for a starting job. Whether Michael Jordan takes a huge step or one of Smith and Carman break out, it doesn’t matter. Joe Burrow will take whichever outcome it is.
- Jalen Davis looks to be playing his way onto the roster at the backend of the CB room. Another good performance probably seals his spot on the 53.
- Pooka Williams looks on track to play this week after missing what would’ve been his NFL debut with a minor injury. I’ve been adamant about him getting his chance and I believe he’s an NFL level talent.
- Will the Bengals take any deep shots to see how Tee Higgins has improved? Or to let Ja’Marr Chase show that he can, in fact, separate at this level?
Fans will still be left waiting to see Joe Burrow’s first appearance in New Stripes. Dare I predict he suits up for a drive or two in the preseason finale on August 29th at Paul Brown Stadium against the Dolphins?