5 Cincinnati Bengals Players with Bright Futures
The Bengals put in the kind of performance that won them plaudits in 2011, and some of them proved just how bright the future is in the Queen City.
At 4-5, the Bengals still have a long road ahead. However, with a blowout win over last year's Super Bowl champions, hope is alive.
If Cincy can turn that win into some positive momentum over the next few weeks, they could be in for a wild finish at the end of the year.
Here are five Bengals who could make the difference late in the year and who have bright futures to look forward to.
For A.J. Green, the future is now.
He's already proved that he deserves to be mentioned among some of the very best.
The Bengals may be having a rough and tumble 2012, but Green continues to shine brightly.
Green provided the Bengals with six on their opening drive on Sunday, taking a 56-yard pass from Andy Dalton to the house.
The Bengals have not had a weapon of Green's caliber during Marvin Lewis' tenure and his abilities give them an aerial credibility that even Ochocinco and Houshmanzadeh couldn't have dreamed of.
It's clear that Green is only just getting started, and the future looks great.
He finished the day with seven receptions, 85 yards and a TD.
Mohamed Sanu added some more tools to his arsenal on Sunday.
He's already proved he can throw, and now we know he can line up in the backfield and run the football effectively as well.
In a roster stacked with receiving talent, Sanu seems to have learned a thing or two from Andrew Hawkins about how to make yourself indispensable.
Armon Binns has faded away of late, while Marvin Jones sits out injured and Brandon Tate continues to underwhelm.
This has given Sanu an opportunity to step up and show what he's made of, and he's doing a good job of it so far.
He bagged himself a TD on Sunday afternoon with 47 yards from four receptions.
A short while ago, Vontaze Burfict was the ultimate red-flag prospect.
Undrafted and slated by the NFL media, Burfict was done for before he even began.
However, under the guidance of Marvin Lewis, Burfict has undergone a dramatic transformation and become a solid starter in the Bengals defense.
In fact, when Burfict suffered an injury scare in Sunday's win, Bengals fans engaged in a collective facepalm. This fanbase understands his value.
Burfict had two tackles and six assists on Sunday, but his presence was worth so much more. His raw athleticism and intimidating persona make him a great weapon to have.
Since taking over at WILL, Burfict has brought the best out in MLB Rey Maualuga, who is doing everything he can to ensure Vontaze doesn't steal his spot in 2013.
He's had a meteoric rise, and while still raw, former UDFA Burfict has an incredibly bright future in Cincinnati.
Jermaine Gresham has had a tough first few years in stripes.
He's already on his second QB and second OC, which has hampered his development somewhat.
However, he is beginning to show just how much of a monster he can be.
His size and strength make him a huge threat, and his red-zone poise gives the Bengals an added edge.
He had three receptions for 15 yards and a 10-yard TD on Sunday.
Gresham's full contribution isn't reflected by the stats.
We saw early in the game that Gresham is dangerous enough as a tight end that he can draw attention away from A.J. Green. This resulted in a TD that got the Bengals off to a hot start.
It's taken him a while, but Gresham is starting to develop into the special player the team thought he could be.
Orson Charles? Really?
Yes. The man who hauled in just one pass for 19 yards has a seriously bright future in Cincinnati.
The Bengals spent the offseason installing as much as possible, trying to make use of their 470 wide receivers in the process.
As a result, Charles hasn't been able to truly show off his skill set. It won't be until 2013 at the earliest that he starts to receive the attention he deserves.
However, on the few occasions that his number has been called this year, he has been perfect.
He's never had more than one reception per game, but on all but one occasion, he's taken that reception for more than 10 yards.
He's making the most of his limited opportunities and it's getting him noticed.
It's very, very early days for Orson Charles, but both he and Jermaine Gresham are gearing up to produce an extremely exciting Bengals TE unit in the coming years.