Go under the microscope for Friday's 7:30 p.m. preseason opener at Paul Brown Stadium against the Jets (11:35 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) and it is pretty much the same conversation about new starters since the hot stove league ignited an hour after J.J. Watt returned the pick for the TD in the Wild Card Game seven months ago on Jan. 7.
Which wide receivers are going to make plays with the lights on? How are the safeties going to react to a New York team that likes to pound the running game? How do the Bengals set up at guard after making moves at both spots?
But the guy who may end up getting the most work of any Bengal on Friday is quarterback
With free-agent rookie
It's a rematch of the 2010 Senior Bowl practices for the South team, where Oklahoma State's Robinson lined up next to a Florida quarterback named Tim Tebow. Tebow, of course, jets into town as the most heralded backup since Hillary Clinton went to the state department, and Robinson can feel the same old juices starting to jangle.
Tebow is supposed to play two quarters at most after starter Mark Sanchez, so there's a shot they don't even cross paths Friday. No matter.
"I loved it; it was a challenge," Robinson said of his practice duels with Tebow. "All eyes are on the quarterbacks and there were a lot on him. Throwing next to him and running stuff next to him, so you just pick your game up and try to elevate it compared to him, or compared to the rest of the quarterbacks.
"That's kind of the mindset at the Senior Bowl. You're competing the whole time. You're competing for draft position and showing teams you can do things better at whatever it is."
There could have been a lot of resentment. It will be recalled that week in Mobile, Ala., that Tebow couldn't even take a snap, much less throw it, and yet smoother guys like Robinson got drafted in the seventh round by New England while Tebow went in the first round to Denver.
"He's a great guy. You can't say anything about him because he's really a humble guy," Robinson said. "He's a a Christian guy and he's like that all the time. It will be fun. He'll get a lot of snaps. It won't be a quarterback vs. quarterback thing. You're just out there trying to execute the offense."
Since the Bengals figure to do what they did last year and keep only two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, Robinson is more likely in a battle with Hansen to see if he gets back to the practice squad, like last year when the Bengals picked him up off waivers from the Lions. Robinson is a good athlete who can run, but he doesn't want to get into any track meets Friday.
"Obviously Andy elevates our game. The rest of the quarterbacks don't want to miss a beat whenever he gets out of there and it's our turn," Robinson said. "I'm just looking for there to be a smooth operation of the offense. Execute the run checks, pass checks, whatever it is, and obviously score some points."
THREE STARTING SPOTS TO WATCH
Wide receiver: The wait has been on since mid-April, when Jerome Simpson went to the Vikings and the race began to identify Pro Bowler
As opposed to 2010, when the Bengals did what Seattle just did and opted to fill its vacancies with the experience of Terrell Owens, they've decided to stay young. Green's rookie 65 catches are the most NFL receptions on the team and the next,
The Bengals took Rutgers'
That appears to be falling to
Binns is not a newbie in preseason. Before the Jaguars cut him his rookie season last year, he had two catches for 20 yards, one for a TD.
That race figures to become more defined in the preseason. And does Sanu make a run at it? Or, does last year's sixth-rounder
"It's good, you always want your quarterback to trust you and you build that trust by just being there for him consistently in practice," Binns said after the mock game. "When he knows that I think he feels more comfortable in throwing those 50/50 balls up to us.
"I just want to take advantage of the opportunities given to me. When I'm on the field I want to make plays in productive series and I know that will put me in a good position once the season starts."
You get to six receivers pretty quickly. There is Green.
It looks like Whalen may not play Friday with a hamstring pull that iced him last weekend. Shipley has been working with the backups as he tries to get back into shape after his rehab.
The CW is the Bengals keep 10 defensive backs—six corners and four safeties—so it appears that this year's fifth-rounder,
Former Bengals guard Dave Lapham, a 10-year player and long-time radio analyst for the club, has been impressed with Zeitler. He compares what Zeitler has had to do with Atkins to what Lapham faced 38 years ago in his rookie camp against Pro Bowl tackle Mike Reid.
"The games were easier than practice," Lapham said.
Backup Spots To Watch: Linebacker. The number looks to be six with a plethora of defensive linemen and battered cornerbacks, and there's a backer scrum after the first four of the starters and