Other than upgrading new safety Sean Davis to replace the injured Ricardo Allen on the roster earlier this weekend, the Bengals on Sunday rolled out pretty much the same lineup that beat the Vikings last Sunday.
Isaiah Prince stayed ahead of Fred Johnson in the backup tackle rotation with rookie offensive lineman D'Ante Smith, rookie nose tackle Tyler Shelvin and rookie cornerback Nick McCloud on the inactive list. Also down was wide receiver Trenton Irwin, called up to the active roster in the wake of Allen (arm) going on injured reserve.
Starting cornerback Trae Waynes (hamstring) is again inactive and head coach Zac Taylor indicated he's uncertain he'll be back for next week's game in Pittsburgh.
The Bears sidelined nose tackle Eddie Goldman (knee) for the second straight week. Still, without him, they were able to hold the Rams to just 74 yards rushing on 23 carries. Left tackle Jason Peters (quad) was questionable but got the start.
JOE VS. ANDY: Before the 15th meeting of a former Bengals quarterback starting against his old team, Andy Dalton chatted on the field with Joe Burrow, his successor. It's the first meeting of two Opening Day Bengals quarterbacks since Dalton's career year of 2015, when he lost a 34-31 classic to Carson Palmer in Arizona.
BELL BRINGS THE HAMMER: Strong safety Vonn Bell not only leads all safeties from his draft class in tackles, but he brings the physical mindset the Bengals have been trying to cultivate with the overhaul of the defense. Bell, one of the first major signees of the plan, has been known to discuss the need of playing violently with strong safety Jessie Bates III. He didn't before the opener, but he liked the results.
"I'm glad we did," Bell said last week. "We want to put our best foot forward. We want to be the heartbeat of the defense. We always tell each other that. Bring that energy, bring that enthusiasm and go make plays for one another."
Bell noticed the difference in the defense's mentality in the guts of last week's game.
"Playing together, trusting one another and playing for one another. That's the thing (we're) a close knit group (that's) like a family," Bell said. "We don't want to the person beside of us down. That's the biggest thing, we feel that energy in the locker room. We feel that on this side of the ball and we just want to go out there and play together and have fun."
Presented by On Location, the Bengals have arrived to Soldier Field for the Week 2 contest against the Chicago Bears.
RUN GAME WEARING: Sunday's 149-yard rushing effort was the kind of game an offensive lineman loves. Running back Joe Mixon and his linemates took time to find their footing and it helped that Taylor stuck with the run game. The result was Mixon got stronger as the game got later.
"I think that's the run game in general. That's what you want to do in a run game, you want to be able to have an efficient enough runs so that you can commit to it and you don't have to get out of it and go to straight drop-back a lot of the times," said center Trey Hopkins. "We were in that position we were able to do. (Our) defense kept us in a close game the whole time so we were able to do that and we didn't have to get into a shootout. So it's a lot of things that really allowed us to stay committed to the run game. Anytime you can do that, wearing down the defense is (good) and that's what you're looking for."
JOLTIN' JOE: The mindset allowed Mixon to have the best Opening Day by a Bengals runner in more than 50 years (29 carries, 127 yards) and no Bengal ever carried more in the first game. Heading into Sunday's game will Mixon have the most carries in the first two games? The number is 26. Taylor seems ready.
"It was fun to watch. It's just such a great weapon to have. There were a lot of really well blocked plays. That's one of the things we just shared with our team," Taylor said. "Some of the things that Joe was able to see from his position in the backfield of our linemen covering up those D-linemen. Over the course of the game some of the holes that opened up were really big and really friendly for the ball carrier.
"Just really good to see from Joe. That's something we really missed over three-fourths of last season. It's good to have him back, his energy and he's playing with a lot of confidence right now."