After a couple of years of waiting in the weeds, the Bengals draft class of 2009 is starting to have an impact and reared its head several times in Thursday’s 24-13 preseason win over the visiting Panthers.
It has some way to go to catch up to the ’10 class, and the ’11 group with
No. 1 pick
And third-rounder Michael Johnson is coming off an impressive four-day stretch at right end in which he made hay against 2010 Pro Bowl tackles in the Jets’ D’Brickashaw Ferguson and the Panthers’ Jordan Gross.
Johnson didn’t have a sack but he’s been a big factor in the first defense allowing 55 yards rushing on 22 carries by backs in the last two games, as well as making some impressive rushes against the pass.
“I’m trying some new things; the preseason is the time to do it,” said Johnson, not looking to give up any secrets. “Hopefully the sacks are getting saved for the regular season.”
The rest of the ’09 class has also flexed its muscles this week. Punter
And while the cornerback situation is unsettled as the club looks to other rosters for help, sixth-rounder
The other third-rounder, tight end
(Free agent rookie tight end
Plus, the Bengals got a big-time game Thursday out of a college free agent from that class in
The frequent presence of Pressley highlights is one of the major contrasts in the offense used by Jay Gruden compared to what had been used in the recent past. The Bengals, who were often a three-receiver team as of late, now use two backs much more frequently.
On the two key plays of the first Bengals touchdown drive—fourth-and-one from the Panthers 13 and a third-and-goal from the 1—Pressley came up big. He got a helmet on the safety each snap and Benson rattled for a total of 10 yards.
Johnson has teamed with ’10 product
“As the game goes, we try to see what the tackles and guards are doing and we’re always talking,” Atkins said. “We had a few stunts and a few games, and we got some pressure on him. We’re just trying to have fun out there.”
Johnson showed some strength inside and Atkins some speed on the outside when they looped a few times. The line collapsed the pocket from the middle a few times, just enough to harass Newton through 3-for-12 passing in the first half with pretty much pressure from just the front four.
“We let him get outside contain a few times, but we did want to make him move back there,” Atkins said. “He’s new to the league and we were hoping we could make him pull the ball down or make him get rid of it quickly.”
Consider it done. Johnson is sensing the same momentum the line finished with last season (when Johnson, Atkins and left end
“I just feel a lot more confident and comfortable this year,” Johnson said. “I played a lot last year and I’m hoping it’s paying off.”