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Bengals vs. Chiefs Game Notes


Kickoff: Saturday, Aug. 19 at 7 p.m.

Television: Live coverage on the Bengals Preseason Network with Brad Johansen (play-by-play) and Anthony Munoz (analyst). The network is led by flagship WKRC-TV (CBS Channel 12) in Cincinnati. Also on the network are WKEF-TV (ABC Ch. 22) in Dayton, WSYX-TV (ABC Ch. 6) in Columbus, WLIO-TV (FOX Ch. 8.2) in Lima, WDKY-TV FOX Ch. 56) in Lexington, Ky. and WDRB-TV (FOX Ch. 41) in Louisville, Ky.

Radio: Coverage on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst). 

Setting the scene: When the Cincinnati Bengals host the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday at Paul Brown Stadium, Bengals coaches figure to assign more playing time for the first-team offense and first-team defense than they did in last week's 23-12 win over Tampa Bay in the preseason opener. Comprised mostly of veterans, those starting units will be depended upon to lead the team in the 2017 regular season, and against the Buccaneers, they played with intact lineups for only one drive each.        

Preseason games, however, largely are about coaching staffs taking long looks at depth, particularly with respect to youth. And in the win over the Bucs, there was a relatively large group of the youngest Bengals, mostly rookies and second-year players, who had noteworthy individual performances. So, this weekend, once the first-teamers retreat to the sidelines against the Chiefs, there is no doubt that coaches will be eager to begin determining whether the contributions of those youngsters last week were isolated instances, or dependable previews of things to come.

"I was pleased overall with the Bucs game and the fact we put ourselves in good situations," said head coach Marvin Lewis. "Our young guys had the opportunity to go out there and experience the NFL, and we've just got to keep moving them (forward). When we look at the tapes of these preseason games, we're really going to learn some good information about them and others."      

Among rookies against Tampa Bay, fans saw the Bengals' 2017 draft class flex its collective muscle. Injured first-round draft pick John Ross (shoulder) had not yet been cleared for contact and missed the Bucs game, but several of the Bengals' draftees selected behind him stepped in and played key roles.   

Perhaps the most notable performance was that of DE Jordan Willis, the Bengals' third-round draft pick out of Kansas State. The stat sheet stated that Willis had three tackles including a sack, but game video disclosed much more. Willis rushed Bucs passers from various spots on both sides of Cincinnati's defensive line and consistently beat blockers to apply pressure. And after hurrying passes, Willis was either tackling or assisting in the tackles of Tampa Bay ball carriers, often hustling downfield a considerable distance from where he started in the Buccaneers' backfield. 

On offense, second-round pick Joe Mixon rushed for 31 yards on six carries (5.2-yard average) and caught one pass for 11 yards. En route to compiling those numbers, the rookie HB out of Oklahoma flashed his abilities to avoid, shed and outrun would-be tacklers. Fourth-round selection Josh Malone, a WR out of Tennessee, caught two passes, including the game's lone TD pass, an eight-yard strike from QB Jeff Driskel in the third quarter that helped the Bengals begin to pull away from the Bucs on the way to the win. On special teams, K Jake Elliott, a fifth-round draft pick out of Memphis, nailed a 45-yard field goal with plenty of distance to spare in the second quarter, and all three of his kickoffs reached the Tampa Bay end zone, with one landing beyond the end zone for a touchback. And in addition to Willis' performance on defense, sixth-round selection Jordan Evans of Oklahoma and fourth-round selection Carl Lawson of Auburn deserve mention. Evans had an eye-catching line on the stat sheet, tying for the lead with six total tackles, including five solos. And Lawson, who has impressed coaches in training camp practices as he makes the switch from college defensive lineman to pro linebacker, was noticeable on several plays early in the game in the team's nickel package, adding one assist. In addition, though he was not a draft pick, college free agent S Demetrious Cox had three solo tackles, plus a fourth-quarter interception on the Bengals' 11-yard line that he returned 37 yards to midfield.        

When highlighting the contributions of young players in the Bengals' win over Tampa Bay in the preseason opener, it's difficult to mention those of the rookies without also mentioning those of a number of second-year players.         

Among second-year vets who played well against Tampa Bay, QB Jeff Driskel had perhaps the most notable performance of that group, and probably of the entire game itself. Acquired by the Bengals on waivers from San Francisco after final cuts last preseason, Driskel saw his first action as a Bengal against the Bucs, and he did not disappoint. He played the entire second half and completed eight of nine passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, registering a near-perfect 148.6 passer rating (a perfect rating is 158.3). He showed poise and accuracy, as well as the ability to throw well on the run. He also displayed a penchant for scrambling and rushing, leading the team in rushing with 34 yards on five carries (6.8-yard average), including another touchdown, an 18-yarder in which he juked one would-be tackler and then made two other would-be tacklers run into each other while he escaped for the score without being touched.

Second-year guard Christian Westerman played nearly half the game, and his name was mentioned on broadcasts several times for good blocks on both passing and rushing plays. Also on the offensive line, second-year player Trey Hopkins started at RG and played most of the first half, with a solid performance in a line demonstration that graded out well overall. Though technically a second-year player, Hopkins actually is in his fourth season with the team. He originally was a college free agent signee of the Bengals in 2014 and spent his entire rookie season on Reserve/Injured list with a leg injury, then spent '15 and all but two games of '16 on the team's practice squad. Also on offense, the Bengals have a trio of second-year WRs who recorded catches against the Bucs — Alex Erickson (a team-leading three receptions for 50 yards), Cody Core (one catch for 17 yards) and Tyler Boyd (one catch for eight yards).

On defense, second-year players who played significant roles included LB Nick Vigil (started at SLB and tied for team lead with six tackles, including three solos), CB William Jackson (started at LCB; three solo tackles), S Clayton Fejedelem (started at FS; two tackles and one pass defensed) and DT Andrew Billings (one assisted tackle; generally disruptive overall against Bucs' offensive linemen).        

Additionally, it is worth mentioning two other young players — third-year OTs Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher, who started at LOT and ROT, respectively, against Tampa Bay. They were on the field for the majority of the first half and played well against both the first-team and second-team defenses of the Buccaneers.

The series: The Bengals and Chiefs last played in preseason on Aug. 7, 2014, a 41-39 Chiefs home victory in what was the first preseason meeting between the two since 1988. The Chiefs now lead the preseason series 8-0. Of those eight matchups, three have been in Cincinnati, four in Kansas City, and one in Jackson, Miss. (1969).            

The Bengals' first game of any kind was against the Chiefs, in Cincinnati's inaugural preseason contest, played Aug. 3, 1968 at Nippert Stadium on the University of Cincinnati campus. The Chiefs won, 38-14.              

In regular season, the Bengals lead 15-13. The two last met on Oct. 4, 2015, with the Bengals prevailing 36-21 at home. Cincinnati has won the last four regular-season contests against Kansas City.              

The 2003 game in Cincinnati was a particularly memorable one, as a 4-5 Bengals club toppled a 9-0 Chiefs squad 24-19 during Marvin Lewis' first season as head coach.

Bengals-Chiefs connections: Bengals tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes played for the Chiefs from 1985-93 ... Chiefs running backs coach Eric Bieniemy played for the Bengals from 1995-98 ... Chiefs TE Travis Kelce played at the University of Cincinnati ... Chiefs RB Spencer Ware attended Princeton High School in Cincinnati ... Bengals DE Jordan Willis is from Kansas City (Rockhurst High School) and played at Kansas State University ... Chiefs LB Marcus Rush is from Cincinnati (Archbishop Moeller High School) ... Bengals DE Wallace Gilberry played with Kansas City from 2008-11 ... Bengals CB KeiVarae Russell entered the NFL as a third-round draft choice (No. 73 overall) of the Chiefs in 2016 ... Chiefs TE Orson Charles entered the NFL as a fourth-round draft choice (No. 116 overall) of the Bengals in 2012 and was with the team through the 2013 season ... Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons is from Elkhart, Kan., and played (1993-95) and coached ('96) at the University of Kansas ... Chiefs OL Parker Ehinger played at the University of Cincinnati ... Chiefs WR Robert Wheelwright is from Columbus, Ohio (Walnut Ridge High School) ... Chiefs RB Kareem Hunt played at the University of Toledo ... Chiefs WR Gehrig Dieter played two seasons at Bowling Green State University (2014-15) before transferring to the University of Alabama.

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