Week 1 of the preseason culminated with the Bengals squeaking by the Buffalo Bills 30-27, with a late touchdown grab by Auden Tate from Jeff Driskel securing the win. It was a good first battle of the season and many players saw action in the orange and black stripes.
The first team offense was efficient and looked sharp from the first snap. Andy Dalton capped two drives with touchdown passes to Joe Mixon and Tyler Boyd, completing 6 of 8 passes for 103 yards, two scores, and one interception which was returned for a touchdown. Mixon lined up in the slot a few plays, showing a wrinkle which could be interesting if it carries into the regular season. Giovani Bernard and Mixon each had a few strong runs and the starting offensive line looked good. A.J. Green caught both of his targets, while John Ross had one catch on five targets. Tate caught the game winner with two targets and also drew two defensive interference calls. Tate is securing his roster spot and climbing the depth chart. Josh Malone also caught three passes for 41 yards on five targets and has been making a strong case to start opposite Green. Tyler Eifert did not play and C.J. Uzomah was the only tight end to factor into the box score with three catches for 32 yards.
There were not any true standout performances on defense, but the Bengals starting defense will be among the top 10-12 in the league while the defensive line features depth few teams have. Jordan Evans and Brandon Bell notched five tackles and Bell added an interception, perhaps moving closer to securing a spot on the final roster. Cornerback KeiVarae Russell grabbed an interception as well while fellow corner Davontae Harris added six tackles. Both young corners are also trying to secure a roster spot.
Training Camp Notes
Vontaze Burfict was injured in practice Monday, but the team has been quiet about the severity as he is held out of practice. Burfict was hoping to get preseason snaps in ahead of serving another four game suspension, but now will likely be held out this week at the least. Eifert hasn’t been in practice this week, perhaps as a precaution as he gets back into playing shape. Again, the organization hasn’t provided much information. Another day, another Tate highlight catch - unfortunately, I don’t have video, but reports of Tate catching anything thrown in his area code surface daily. His red zone prowess and ability to get jump balls are making it difficult for the Bengals to ignore. Tate is a player to watch and grab on your fantasy teams if he is available. Boyd has impressed in training camp with precise route running and footwork; he is locked in as the Bengals starting wideout opposite A.J. Green at this point in time.
Week 2 Preview
The Bengals travel to Arlington, Texas to take on the Cowboys on Saturday, August 18. The Cowboys lost to the 49ers 24-21 in Week 1 and will likely not play starters long if at all. It would be fun to see the starting defensive line against the stellar Cowboys lineman and it’s a matchup I would pay to see. Pay attention to the wide receivers - as noted above, Tate, Malone, and Ross are really making things interesting as the receiver corps is exciting and deep. Jeff Driskel is entrenching himself in the QB2 spot after completing 10 of 15 passes for 140 yards and the game winning touchdown in Week 1 - another strong performance would lock him in there.