LANDOVER, Md. — The one thing the Bengals wanted to avoid Saturday in the third and final preseason game crept up and bit them in the backside.
Joseph Ossai, the projected third defensive end behind Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard, came out of the game on the third play of the game with a right ankle injury.
He came slowly off the field and then was examined for several minutes inside the blue tent before finally emerging without a shoe on his right foot. He slowly made his way to the locker room and did not return to the game. He was ruled out just before halftime.
— Caleb Noe (@CalebNoeTV) August 26, 2023
The Bengals fell in their preseason finale to the Washington Commanders, 21-19, at FedExField in Landover. The Bengals may have wanted to see more from him in camp and preseason, perhaps explaining why he was in the game along with first-round rookie Myles Murphy, who missed last week’s game in Atlanta.
Chris Evans and Drew Sample did not dress, pretty clear signs that they have roster spots.
No one had a better preseason than Evan McPherson. Not only did he drill a 58-yard field goal in the second quarter Saturday, it was his third of at least 50 yards in August and made his 7-for-7. He’s also converted all three extra points.
Veterans who played Saturday who might not make the initial cut Tuesday include Trent Taylor, Michael Thomas and Drue Chrisman. Stanley Morgan dressed and did not play. The fact that Trevor Siemian played into the fourth quarter could also be an indicator. Jake Browning played just two series.
Chido Awuzie dressed and went through warmups but obviously did not touch the field during the game. It was just another way of getting him ready for his season debut on Sept. 10 in Cleveland.
Players who stood out Saturday:
The sixth-rounder out of Princeton had a pair of terrific catches on passes from Jake Browning on the first drive. One was a back-shoulder grab of 25 yards down to the Washington 14. The other was a six-yard grab over the middle as he rose to make the grab in the back of the end zone.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) August 26, 2023
Fighting for either a tight end spot on the 53-man roster or possibly someone else’s roster, the veteran tight end caught four passes on seven targets for 42 yards, and had a 19-yarder over the middle wiped out in the second half by a Trey Hill facemask. The fact that Mitchell Wilcox played sparingly in the first half to test himself and Hudson played into the second half is a likely indication of Wilcox making the squad. That, and the Bengals’ decision to activate Wilcox off PUP.
In the opening drive, the Bengals offense had their crispest looking performance of preseason as Browning (6-for-6, 42 yards, 1TD) completed all four passes on the opening drive, including a six-yarder over the middle to Iosivas for the TD. It appears he did enough to win the job as QB2 behind Joe Burrow. Trevor Siemian had a good drive before the half, driving the Bengals down to the Washington 26. But one play after Terrell Burgess tipped the ball away from Tanner Hudson in the end zone, Siemian (14-of-23, 133 yards, 0TD, 1INT) tried to force the ball into Iosivas at the goal line. He didn’t see the defensive back under in coverage and the pass was eventually picked off in the end zone.
Siemian had his best-looking drive of preseason to close out the third quarter, taking the Bengals from their 41 to the Washington 17.
The rookie out of Purdue caught a pair of passes on the two-minute drive before half and handled punt return duties cleanly.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) August 26, 2023
And then there’s Evan McPherson. He drilled a 58-yard field goal in the second quarter to cap a drive led by Siemian. McPherson has indeed been money in the preseason. He hit three field goals of at least 50 yards (one in each game) and was 8-for-8 in field goals. He hit all three extra points and finished 11-for-11 on kicks. Four of his five kickoffs Saturday were deep into the end zone and not returned.
The young secondary had their learning moments Saturday. DJ Ivey was beaten for a Mitchell Tinsley 39-yard TD in the second quarter. Allan George was also beaten by Tinsley for 37 yards to the Cincinnati 1. The Commanders scored on the next play to cap a nine play, 94-yard drive on Washington’s first touch of the second half.
Then, after the Bengals cut the Washington lead to 14-13, Jake Fromm directed an eight-play, 75 yard TD scoring drive. The Commanders scored touchdowns on two of their first three drives of the second half.
For the second time in a week, a Bengals player lost their poise as Domenique Davis drilled Fromm out of bounds for a 15-yard penalty after Fromm ran out for a 3-yard loss and a sack. It kept Washington’s second TD drive alive.
Reid Sinnett had a nice moment in his first shot of preseason. He led a touchdown drive, capped by a 34-yard TD pass to a wide-open Shedrick Jackson midway through the fourth quarter. The two-point conversion was incomplete.