Familiar faces in Bengals 2017 pre-season schedule

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Marvin Lewis finds himself among familiar faces when he opens his 15th year as the Bengals head coach in a pre-season schedule that calls for a Paul Brown Stadium opener against Tampa Bay on the weekend of Aug. 10-14 wjhen the Bucs unveil the Jameis Winston-DeSean Jackson combo and another nationally-televised game when they go to Washington Aug. 27.

In a schedule the NFL released Monday the Bengals also host the Chiefs the weekend of Aug. 17-21 and travel to Indianapolis for the annual pre-season finale against the Colts on Aug. 31 or Sept. 1.

The Bengals' national shot is on FOX in a Sunday 4:30 p.m. game. Dates and kickoff times for the other three games on the Bengals Preseason TV Network are to be announced later this month.

"Our pre-season schedule features four quality opponents who will provide a good test to our players heading into the regular season," Lewis said in a news release. "It's great for our fans to be able to have the opportunity to view the team nationally during the preseason for the eighth time in eight years."

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Washington head coach Jay Gruden, seen here in his last season as the Bengals offensive coordinator in 2013, has a national pre-season date with his old team.

The Buccaneers are coached by Dirk Koetter, Lewis' roommate and teammate at Idaho State. The game against Washington is a rematch of last year's regular-season tie in London when Lewis and former Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden met for the first time as head coaches. The Chiefs are coached by Andy Reid, one of the three men who have been a head coach in the NFL longer than Lewis with 19 consecutive years between the Eagles and Kansas City. Their first meeting dates back to the 2004 regular-season finale in Philadelphia.

The Bengals' roster that receives an influx of youth with 11 draft picks gets an early test of iron. The 12-4 Chiefs earned a post-season bye last year before the Steelers went on the road to beat them in the AFC divisional round. Tampa Bay, 9-7 in the Bucs' first year under Koetter, buzzed around the post-season picture, as did 8-7-1 Washington and 8-8 Indy.

"Pre-season games are an important time to evaluate talent, especially as some of our newest Bengals take the field for the first time," said Bengals director of player personnel Duke Tobin in the release. "We will have a lot of young players showcasing their abilities, including potentially 11 draft picks this year."

The matchup with Koetter's Bucs fuels speculation for the Bengals hosting two practices with the team they face in the opener. Lewis did it with coaches he respects, the Giants' Tom Coughlin in 2015 and last year the Vikings' Mike Zimmer, the former Bengals defensive coordinator.

The regular-season home schedule, the same one faced by rookies A.J. Green and Andy Dalton in the 9-7 Wild Card season of 2011, features AFC North rivals Baltimore, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh, as well as Buffalo, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, and Indy. The NFL figures to release that schedule with dates and times some time before the April 27-29 draft.

Season tickets are available now through the Bengals Ticket Hotline at (513) 621-8383 or toll-free at (866) 621-8383, online at Bengals.com or by visiting the Paul Brown Stadium ticket office. The Ticket Hotline and ticket office hours are from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Fans can call the hotline to schedule an appointment to view available seats. Season Tickets start at $400 and flexible payment plan options are available.

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