CINCINNATI — After a chance to digest what happened Friday night between the Packers and Bengals, here are some thoughts about some players who stood out – good and bad – and where they and the Bengals go next.
These players put some good work on tape:
He had 11 touches and produced 45 yards. He had three catches on three targets for 33 yards while he ran the ball eight times for 12 yards. He showed some explosiveness on a pop pass (looks like run). He’ll get more reps as he works on pass protection and releases.
The second-year safety coming off a hamstring injury had the biggest impact, accounting for the only Cincinnati touchdown when he jumped a Dontayvion Wicks route and returned it 43 yards for a score. The safety showed good instincts all night and fought for his second interception when he picked the ball out of the hands of tight end Tucker Kraft and set the Bengals up at the Packers 41.
“I feel like a proud big brother knowing what it meant for him losing all of last year (to injury), seeing him work, putting in the time and seeing what it’s meant to him,” Michael Thomas said. “He’s a new father, so he has some diverse responsibilities, and now he’s getting his opportunity. I’ve been there with him since last year, working with him through to this training camp. For him to get in this first preseason game and have that type of game with those big plays, I know that feeling. I’ve been there before, so I’m just proud of him.”
“Just a lot of hard work went through to get to this moment here,” Anderson said. “I’m just so blessed to be in this position. A lot of things that you guys didn’t see that I was going through last year, and I’m just blessed to be in this, part of this, with the group of guys that we’re here with. (I’m) just happy to be able to make those plays when the ball comes my way.”
Another young safety, the rookie admitted that he wasn’t expected to jump up and make a tackle on a first-quarter route for a three-yard loss but his instincts for the ball couldn’t be contained. That’s a good thing on two fronts. He’s aggressive and he realized immediately his responsibility on the field and took a calculated risk to charge and make the play. There has been a lot to like about Jordan Battle all camp. That continued Friday. He also had a pass break up in the end zone on what would’ve been a likely TD for Somari Toure but he came in over the top and batted it away.
“I just want to show extra effort getting to the ball,” Battle told me of the three-yard loss he created. “I had a TFL today and that’s not even my play to make. Just getting to the ball, running to the ball, it came to me. Just seeing that extra effort, getting to the ball, (it shows) a play could just fall into your hands.”
He came over and knocked away a deep ball intended for Christian Watson, giving good help to DJ Turner II, who was beaten by a step. Hill showed two skills on the play. The read of the ball down field and the speed to get to the ball and make a fundamental play without interference. A lot is expected of Hill this year stepping in for Jessie Bates and Friday was a good first step.
The rookie out of Princeton caught four passes on 10 targets. Some of those targets were off-point passes from Jake Browning and Trevor Siemian. For the most part, most of the passes thrown in his direction, he either caught or made a strong attempt. The best catch of his night didn’t count, a toss from Trevor Siemian in the end zone in the third quarter. He went airborne, spun his body to square with the ball, caught it, brought his right foot down in bounds but his left foot was just out. His best subtle play was a block on the outside that sprung Kwamie Lassiter II for a nice gain of six yards.
Got off a booming 65-yard punt in the fourth quarter but it bounced at the five and wound up in the end zone. That resulted in a net 45-yard punt, which is still good but it could’ve been 60. He punted five times for a 44.8 average but a net of 39. The goal is to get that up to about 45.
These players have a lot to work on:
Two bad snaps can happen to anyone in an NFL game. But the optics of Jackson Carman standing still for several seconds while a play goes on behind him is another level of bad. Could it be someone got the snap count wrong? Sure. But once the play is activated, it’s the job of the offensive line to react instinctively to protect the QB. Carman did not. He was subsequently put back into the game in the fourth quarter and his turnstile effort on the last series might have been the most damning snap of the night. Just zero effort in terms of footwork. Carman was in the conversation for right tackle in the spring. He’s now on the outside looking in. This is a throwback to the Giants preseason game of 2022 when he was battling Cordell Volson for the starting left guard spot. But he’s not beating out Jonah Williams at left tackle this time, that’s for sure.
Watch Jackson Carman get beat badly here. pic.twitter.com/y1k8YVao23
— Jason Garrison (@JasonRG83) August 12, 2023
The presumptive backup to Joe Burrow was 15-of-28 for 121 yards and a pick. His passer rating was 49.9. He at least got the Bengals into the red zone once in the third quarter but couldn’t finish as Chase Brown lost five yards and then Jaxson Kirkland had an illegal use of hands penalty. On third-and-8 from the Cincinnati 31, his pass was underthrown and Andrei Iosivas couldn’t pull it away from Dallin Leavitt. When Carman and Jaxson Kirkland were beaten badly on the next-to-last drive, he did show the ability to scramble out of the pocket. However, he was nearly intercepted in front of the Bengals sideline on one pass attempt.
While the Packers were 3-for-3 in the red zone in the first half, including a late 28-yard completion to Somari Toure on DJ Ivey that set up the go-ahead touchdown, Browning couldn’t get the Bengals inside the 20 once in five chances, including one that began at Green Bay’s 41 and the other that started at the Bengals 41. On the final drive of the half, Browning had the Bengals at the Packers 41 thanks to Tycen Anderson’s second pick of the game. But two plays later, Browning returning the favor, as former Moeller star Carrington Valentine intercepted for Green Bay. Browning was 10-of-17 for 95 yards, 32 of which came on a dig over the middle to Trenton Irwin. Browning, like Siemian had a 49.9 passer rating. Again, Browning could not move the Bengals after that big play and had to settle for a field goal. His passes seemed mostly on the mark but the timing was off just enough to allow GB to defend.
In short, the quarterback play behind Burrow needs to be a lot quicker and sharper from both, in terms of getting the ball out on time and getting the ball where it needs to be.
Was beaten in the end zone for a touchdown by Romeo Doubs when he didn’t get his head turned around. He’s been up-and-down in camp and is in a fight with rookies DJ Turner II, DJ Ivey and Allan George for playing time behind Cam Taylor-Britt and Chido Awuzie.
He has shown some very good reps in camp but seemed to take a step back on Friday, especially as the game wore on in the fourth quarter. He was in the game at right guard and needs to be better moving his feet. He’s an undrafted free agent so there’s not a ton of pressure on him. This week is a big one for him.
The seventh-round edge from 2022 got first team reps to start the game and committed two penalties in the first quarter, one on special teams with a block in the back and one on defense. Needs to show more burst to get to the quarterback. He did get his hand on a Jordan Love pass and batted it down. Gunter is in a position with a boatload of depth and will need to pick up his game, show some push to get to the QB to at least show he is very worthy of a practice squad spot.