The Cincinnati Bengals won their preseason opener with a 17-6 victory over the New York Jets on Friday. While the game result was immaterial, the play of individuals and units was not. Here are some of my observations from the game.
The defensive line is as deep or even deeper than last year. The Bengals lost Frostee Rucker and Jonathan Fanene to free agency over the summer and Carlos Dunlap to injury Friday, but the unit keeps on chugging along. Geno Atkins and Domata Peko were sharp, and so was rookie Devon Still. The D-line will again be one of the team’s strengths.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis is exactly what this offense needs. He had some nice runs and showed great discipline in following his blocks and hitting the hole quickly. But he also had a nice catch and run, and it is that facet of his game that will make the Bengals a much more potent offense.
Vontaze Burfict will not start the season on the practice squad. It was just one preseason game and it was against the Jets’ second unit, but Burfict flashed the talent that made many feel he could have been a first-round pick. His interception came on a poor pass that Tim Tebow telegraphed with his eyes, but Burfict put himself in position and made a great athletic play.
The Bengals are deep at nearly every position. The Bengals lost Travelle Wharton for the season and Dunlap, Rey Maualuga and Taylor Mays were each injured, but the team didn’t seem to lose a beat. Clint Boling replaced Wharton and played well, but expect the Bengals to search the waiver wire for a possible replacement.
Other players that impressed in game one: Safety Robert Sands was everywhere, picked up tackles and blocked a punt. He’s already challenging for a starting spot, and Friday didn’t hurt. Cedric Peerman showed why he is a valuable player, especially on special teams. Dontay Moch also had two sacks.