Bengals go national again in preseason

The Bengals return to the national airwaves this preseason when they travel to Tampa Bay for a Monday night game on ESPN Aug. 24.

Dates and kickoff times for the other three games are to be announced later this month, and those games will be on the Bengals Preseason TV Network, the Bengals announced in a press release Thursday.

The Bengals, one of four NFL teams to make the playoffs the last four years, open the drive for five at Paul Brown Stadium against the New York Giants on the weekend of Aug. 13-17 in just the second preseason opener at home in seven years.

Since training camp traditionally opens 15 days before the first game, the earliest it can start is July 30 and the latest Aug. 2.

After defensive end Michael Johnson's return to Tampa in an 8 p.m. game, the Bengals return to PBS to play the Bears the weekend of Aug. 27-31 and finish with the annual preseason finale against the Colts in Indianapolis Sept. 3 or 4. The Bengals' first game ever at PBS was a preseason 24-20 victory over the Bears on Aug. 19, 2000.

With the Bengals' avid supporters of high school football, they'll try to avoid scheduling the Bears game for that Friday night. So coming off a Monday night road game they'll probably be looking for a Saturday or Sunday date. It looks like it will be an easier turnaround than last season, when the Bengals played a nationally televised game in Arizona on Sunday night and returned to PBS for a Thursday game against the Colts.

"We're pleased to have home dates against two of the NFL's most traditional and best-known franchises," said Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn in the release. And it is always a plus in preseason to have the experience of a national TV game

Season tickets are available now through the Bengals Ticket Hotline at 866-621-8383 (TDTD) or online through Bengals.com.

Dates and times for home games in the regular season have not yet been announced (the schedule is usually released in the next 10 days or so), but it's known that in addition to AFC North Division rivals Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, the Bengals host defending NFC champion Seattle along with Houston, Kansas City, St. Louis and San Diego.

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