Game Preview

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Game Preview Presented By Papa John's: Bengals vs Giants

Head Coach Zac Taylor
Head Coach Zac Taylor

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Eastern.

Television: Live coverage on the Bengals Preseason Network with broadcasters Mike Watts (play-by-play), Anthony Munoz (analyst) and Solomon Wilcots (sideline reporter). 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: The game will air 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: The Cincinnati Bengals take the field at Paul Brown Stadium for the first time under new head coach Zac Taylor on Thursday night, when they face the visiting N.Y. Giants. The Bengals enter the contest 1-1 in preseason play, and fresh off of last week’s 23-13 victory over the Washington Redskins.

The Bengals’ reserves stole the show against the Redskins, as all 23 of Cincinnati’s points were scored after the first team had exited. Highlighting the night was the play of the Bengals’ special teams units, which took control of the game by scoring the final 10 points of the evening.

Rookie K Tristan Vizcaino struck first, breaking a 13-13 tie with a 57-yard field goal, which had it come in the regular season would’ve been a record for longest in team history (current record is 55 yards by Chris Bahr and Mike Nugent). Two minutes later, WR Alex Erickson added to the lead with a 75-yard punt return for a TD.

But despite the late special teams fireworks, the talk of the night was the play of the young Bengals wide receivers. All eight receivers who played recorded at least one reception, including six who had a catch of at least 12 yards.

With 2017 first-round pick John Ross and seven-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green both missing nearly all of training camp thus far due to injuries, critics have taken aim at a young and unproven group of Bengals pass-catchers. But the receivers have responded by performing well in both practices and games.

Among the surprises has been college free agent Damion Willis, who after drawing rave reviews in practices took his show to the game field against the Redskins. Willis notched five catches for 59 yards, and also had a highlight-reel 35-yard TD catch wiped out by a controversial offensive pass interference penalty. Second-year WR Auden Tate, a 6-5, 228-pound target who excels in the red zone, has also turned heads. Tate has made several highlight-reel catches so far this preseason, and got into the end-zone against Washington with a three-yard score.

Among the other young WRs to impress in training camp have been college free agent Stanley Morgan, the University of Nebraska’s all-time leading receiver, and third-year pro Josh Malone, who is fully healthy after battling a hamstring issue most of last season.

Also turning heads has been rookie QB Ryan Finley, a fourth-round pick of the Bengals in April’s draft. Through two games, Finley has completed 75 percent of his passes (33 of 44), with three TDs and a 102.4 passer rating. He made headlines in the preseason opener at Kansas City by completing his first 10 passes, and then followed that up by completing his first nine attempts at Washington.

On the other side of the ball, the story continues to be the Bengals’ pass rush, despite DE Carl Lawson and seven-time Pro Bowl DT Geno Atkins sitting out the first two preseason contests. After consistent pressure that resulted in two sacks against Kansas City, the Bengals turned up the heat in Washington and notched four sacks. DEs Kerry Wynn, Jordan Willis and Immanuel Turner, along with LB Deshaun Davis, were all credited with sacks against the Redskins.

The defense is led by first-year coordinator Lou Anarumo, who will square off against his former team on Thursday. Anarumo, who is also a native of Staten Island, N.Y., served as defensive backs coach for the Giants last season.

The Giants enter Thursday’s matchup 2-0 in preseason play, after wins over the N.Y. Jets (31-22) and Chicago Bears (32-13).

The series: The Bengals and Giants have played only four times in preseason, with the Giants holding a 3-1 series lead. The Bengals, however, won the last preseason meeting, 23-10 at Paul Brown Stadium in 2015. The previous four Bengals-Giants preseason games were preseason openers for Cincinnati.

In regular-season meetings, the Bengals lead 6-4. The last regular-season matchup resulted in a 21-20 Giants win at MetLife Stadium in 2016. The Bengals and Giants will not meet in the 2019 regular season.

Bengals-Giants connections: Giants G Kevin Zeitler was originally a first-round draft choice of the Bengals in 2012, and was with the team through the ’16 season ... Bengals OT Bobby Hart entered the NFL as a seventh-round draft pick (226th overall) of the Giants in 2015, and was with the team through the ’17 season ... Bengals DE Kerry Wynn entered the NFL as a college free agent signee of the Giants in 2014, and was with the team through the ’18 season ... Giants T George Asafo-Adjei is from West Chester, Ohio (Lakota West High School) and played at the University of Kentucky ... Bengals CB B.W. Webb was with the Giants in 2018 ... Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo was defensive backs coach for the Giants in 2018. Anarumo is also from Staten Island, N.Y., attended Wagner College, and coached at Wagner (1990) and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (’89-90, ’92-94) ... Bengals G John Jerry was with the Giants from 2014-17 ... Bengals CB Tony Lippett was with the Giants in 2018 ... Bengals K Randy Bullock was with the Giants in 2016 ... Giants WR Alonzo Russell was originally a college free agent signee of the Bengals in 2016, and was on Cincinnati’s practice squad during the entire ’16 season. Russell also played at the University of Toledo ... Bengals LS Clark Harris played at Rutgers University ... Giants WR Cody Latimer is from Dayton (Jefferson Township High School) ... Giants RB Rod Smith played at Ohio State University ... Giants TE CJ Conrad played at the University of Kentucky ... Giants assistant offensive line coach Ben Wilkerson played for the Bengals from 2005-06 ... Bengals linebackers coach Tem Lukabu is from Avenel, N.J., played (2000-03) and coached (’14) at Colgate University, and coached at Rutgers University (’06-07, ’10-11) ... Bengals assistant quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher is from Cortland, N.Y., played QB at Cortland State from 2008-11, and then coached at Cortland State in ’12 ... Giants defensive backs coach Everett Withers coached at Ohio State University from 2012-13 ... Bengals assistant offensive line coach Ben Martin coached at Wagner College in 2013, and at Union College from ’16-17.

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