Judging the Cincinnati Bengals from Football That Doesn't Count
In their first two preseason games the Bengals have done little to change my initial judgment of the team. There isn't too much you can take from football games that don't count and are played mostly by UFL-bound players, but the Bengals' depth in certain areas needs to be addressed.
With David Jones out until the opener, the secondary—particularly corner—is thinner than Calista Flockhart. It's a widely accepted belief in the NFL that with the proper amount of pressure on a quarterback, the corners do not have to cover wide receivers for very long.
Unfortunately, Jamar Fletcher and Geoffry Pope have been the exception to that belief. And expecting rookie Morgan Trent to step in as the nickel corner is a stretch considering his impressive lowlight reel at Michigan.
Any more injuries at corner and quarterbacks will be circling games against the Bengals on the calender. It's not a good situation when you factor in Jonathan Joseph's injury history. There are decent options currently floating in free agency, but Mike Brown would have to fork over some veteran coin. List here.
Another area of concern is the offensive line. If/when Andre Smith is signed, the depth along the offensive line will improve but right now things are pretty shaky after the starters. And keep in mind only one player is starting at the same position as last year.
Without Smith around and with Collins in the lineup, our lone super-sub is the long-tenured Scott Kooistra. Is he really up to the challenge of protecting our injury-prone franchise quarterback? Better options are available, but again it's a matter of Mr. Brown forking over a little extra.
But not wanting to focus only on the negative, I did see a lot of very good things from other areas of the team. Namely, the defensive line and linebackers. Keep in mind we are only a couple seasons removed from Robert Geathers playing outside linebacker because our depth was so terrible.
Now we have a suitably deep group of linebackers and defensive linemen to push AFC North linemen. Fresh legs are fast legs and the depth in these areas is going to help Zimmer develop a scary pass rush.
Wide receiver is also an area to be content with. Coles and Ochocinco look sharp, as do Chris Henry and Andre Caldwell. Even Jerome Simpson has looked better in this preseason.
Behind those roster locks we have an entertaining battle of wideouts/specialists with Quan Cosby, Maurice Purify, and Freddie Brown. When Antonio Chatman returns from injury, will he have a spot to return to?
There are still a lot of question marks with this team but if a couple reserves prove they are capable or the front office makes a couple moves to secure depth, this team could do more than just compete.
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