Skip to main content

Numbers game


Andy Dalton had another triple digit passer rating (106.2) in Detroit.

You won't find a more complete pre-season victory than the one the Bengals authored in Detroit,

The first and second offenses both scored touchdowns on their first possessions. The first defense made a red-zone stand and didn't allow a third-down conversion while the second defense turned in an interception return for a touchdown. Lions TV analyst and Ohio State great Chris Spielman offered the benediction when he said in the final five minutes that all three Bengals offensive lines controlled the Lions' front seven.

Here's a look at the roster as the Bengals get back to work in Sunday's 3:40 p.m. practice at West Carrollton High School, their first prep for Sunday's game (8 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 5) in Jacksonville for the pre-season's obligatory dress rehearsal.

Players listed by years of NFL experience.


Andy Dalton (6), AJ McCarron (2), Keith Wenning (1), Joe Licata (R)

Dalton was a little high on some throws Thursday, but he's got a knack for putting it where only his receiver can get it, he was a very solid seven of nine, and he's been in a good rhythm all camp. Plus, his management of what goes on out there is impeccable. For the second straight game, McCarron outplayed the starter on the other team but can we nip the trade rumors? If Mike Brown is trading a good quarterback, he likes to exact a heavy price and have a guy to replace him. See Palmer, Carson.


Brandon LaFell (7), Brandon Tate (7), A.J. Green (6), James Wright (3), Mario Alford (2), Michael Bennett (1), Jake Kumerow (1), Tyler Boyd (R), Cody Core (R), Alex Erickson (R), Antwane Grant (R), Alonzo Russell (R), Rashaun Simonise (R)

LaFell, the club's biggest free-agent pickup of the offseason, is expected to make his debut next Sunday as he battles a ligament injury in his right hand. No doubt he'll be on the 53, but is rookie Tyler Boyd playing himself into the conversation for a starting spot?

It certainly looks like Wright is going to be one of the five active receivers on game day, doesn't it?  The micro fracture surgery knee looked terrific on the touchdown drive at the end of the half on McCarron's second-and-11 throw. Wright saw the defender over pursue him in the middle of the field and he was able to twist his knees into the ground so he could take advantage of the leverage and go get the first down on five yards after the catch.

Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons loves to line up Wright at gunner to cover punts and for the first time since Nov. 30, 2014 he did it in a game. He drew a penalty on his first one when he came back in from getting pushed out of bounds, but later he made a strong bolt down the right sideline to force a short return. If his knee holds up, they've got a valuable player.

Cincinnati Bengals take on the Detroit Lions at Ford Field in week 2 of the preseason 8/18/2016

Core also lined up at gunner and was physical. But this is why he makes it and maybe even is active Sept. 11. He took a terrific hit over the middle on the second snap of the second half on a pass from McCarron and held on a few days after he dislocated a a finger in practice. He can run, he's 6-3 strong, and his hands have been quite reliable.

Tate and Erickson are having a battle royale for what looks to be one spot for the returner/receiver job. How do you keep both? Six days after popping an 80-yarder for a punt return touchdown, the rookie Erickson made the first guy miss and logged a 30-yarder late in the game Thursday. But the Bengals don't have a lot of experience from scrimmage at receiver and for the second straight game Tate converted a third down on a scoring drive. He later couldn't get away from cornerback Darius Slay on quick third-and-two, but he's got good chemistry with Dalton.  This is a classic Hard Knocks training camp battle.

 Russell continues a drive for what looks to be a practice squad spot. It was just a three-yard catch on the next-to-last play of the final Bengals touchdown drive, but he made a nice acrobatic catch when Wenning threw it behind him.


Cody Core continues to impress.


Cedric Peerman 7, Giovani Bernard (4), Rex Burkhead (4), Jeremy Hill (3), Bronson Hill (1), Tra Carson (1)

Can we please see more of Burkhead?

McCarron was right on after Thursday's game when he basically said he's the best running back nobody knows. They had the right idea when they put him back there with Peerman to return their first kickoff and he went for 30 yards. Then he proceeded to rack up 73 yards on seven touches to lead them in both rushing and receiving. Don't forget, the guy has also played slot receiver, although he hasn't lined up there yet this spring and summer.

Hill looks 2014 good. A it looks like he's more decisive with his cuts and B they're giving him the ball more on his kind of down-hill runs instead of some of Bernard's outside stuff.

Carson had a good night despite just 20 yards on seven carries as he guns for the practice squad. On that final TD drive he made a man miss on the perimeter for an eight-yard gain before converting a third-and-four on a tough four-yard inside run.


Tyler Eifert (4), Tyler Kroft (2), C.J. Uzomah (2), Matt Lengel (1), John Peters (1)

Lengel had the only target and catch for a tight end Thursday night as he bids to win back his practice squad spot of last season. Uzomah looked pretty physical in the run game, which he needs to be on Sept. 11, when Kroft (knee) is expected back and Eifert (ankle) is up in the air. 


Ryan Hewitt (3), Jeff Luc (1), Andrew Bonnet (R)

Hewitt also looked to be in 2014 form on Hill's second carry of the night when his lead block out of the I opened up a hole and Hill's immediate cut behind it added up to eight yards. Luc continues to look really good on some snaps and certainly looks to be worth a project in his transition from University of Cincinnati linebacker.


Eric Winston (73) can also play some guard if needed.


LT Andrew Whitworth (11) T Eric Winston (10), LG Clint Boling  (6), RG Kevin Zeitler (5), C Russell Bodine (3), C-G T.J. Johnson (3), RT Cedric Ogbuehi (2), G-T Jake Fisher (2), C-G-T Trey Hopkins (2), G Christian Westerman (R), C-G Alex Redmond (R), C-G Alex Cooper (R),  C-G Trip Thurman (R), T Aaron Epps (R), T John Weidenaar (R).

With right tackle Jake Fisher's lower leg injury on Thursday, the Detroit win pushed the wide receivers off the main roster topic of this summer and put the offensive line under the microscope.

Fisher and No. 1 right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi (toe) are expected back, but they don't know if it will be in time for the Sept. 11 opener against the Jets. So will they have to go heavy at the final cut to 53 with ten linemen instead of the usual nine?

That would appear to force them to keep four experienced tackles and not a neophyte.  They know they can line up and play with Winston. There's going to be no magic on the waiver wire. He did get nabbed for a hold Thursday (it was declined) but he's held up for the most part in the two games and is a true blue veteran.

They really like Westerman, their fifth-rounder, and they certainly don't mind pulling him on the power play with the second unit. The backups dished it out pretty well against Lions second-round pick A'Shawn Robinson with both getting in their shots. UCLA free-agent guard Alex Redmond did get a holding penalty Thursday, but he remains an intriguing guy for them, although it's unclear how many of their talented young interior guys can make it now with the tackle crisis. Hopkins, who looked very good at times at left tackle Thursday and also had some moments where he gave up a tipped pass, can play all five spots but they have to figure out which spots they need the most.

Meanwhile, the first group looks terrific. Pro Bowl left tackle Andrew Whitworth made his '16 debut and Ziggy Ansah's 14.5 sacks didn't get a sniff, plus Whitworth and left guard Clint Boling opened up I-75 for Hill's nine-yard TD run. Offensive line coach Paul Alexander says Boling is playing the best football of his life and it appeared right guard Kevin Zeitler battled the great Haloti Ngata to a stalemate.


   Pat Sims, run-stopper.


NT Domata Peko (11), T Pat Sims (9), RE Michael Johnson (8), T Geno Atkins (7), LE Carlos Dunlap (7), T Brandon Thompson (5) E-T Margus Hunt (4), RE Will Clarke (3), E-T Marcus Hardison (1), T DeShawn Williams (1), T Andrew Billings (R), T David Dean (R), E Ryan Brown (R), E Jack Gangwish (R)

After Johnson schooled Lions first-round pick Taylor Decker at left tackle with two tackles for loss in the first drive Thursday, the kids tried to get a foothold on the roster.

Well, not all the kids. Sims does what he's been doing for nearly a decade and just stops people. On Thursday he had another tackle and a quarterback hit and with Billings (knee) expected to go on season-ending injured reserve they need it. Hardison shows up more than he doesn't. Williams is trying to get into the mix after head coach Marvin Lewis blew a gasket when he gave the Lions a first down on third-and-five when he went offsides. Hunt and Clarke are probably going to make it, but neither showed up on Thursday night's stat sheet.


Karlos Dansby (13), Rey Maualuga (8), Vincent Rey (6), Vontaze Burfict (5), Jayson DiManche (3), Marquis Flowers (3), P.J. Dawson (2), Trevor Roach (1), Nick Vigil (R),  Darien Harris (R)

Vigil is adjusting to drops into coverage of NFL receivers, but overall he's been good and is among the league's pre-season leading tacklers. As he did in college Dawson has a knack for showing up in games as the last two third-rounders catch some eyes. Burfict's not going to play at all this preseason before going on the suspended list, so he's probably their seventh linebacker. Who will be the sixth is a good question. The very athletic Flowers had a team-high four tackles. The very reliable Roach is just coming back from injury. DiManche is trying to find a niche as a rusher/special teamer and the 6-0, 230-pound Harris is trying to show he's not too small.


Derron Smith sets sail down the sideline against the Lions.


CB Adam Jones (10), S-CB Jimmy Wilson (6), S George Iloka (5), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (5), CB Chykie Brown(5), CB Chris Lewis-Harris (4), S Shawn Williams (4), CB Darqueze Dennard (3), CB-S Josh Shaw (2), S Derron Smith (2), S Floyd Raven (1), CB William Jackson (R), S Clayton Fejedelem (R), CB Darius Hillary (R), CB Tony McRae (R), CB Corey Tindal (R)

Will the sixth cornerback please raise his hand? Brown looked better on Thursday, but another DB entered the fray against the Lions when the seventh-rounder Fejedelem led the special teamers with three tackles. That's exactly what they drafted him out of Illinois to do.

But it's all a numbers game here. Nine or ten? Just some massive speculation but maybe on Cutdown Day with the Jets looming the next week it is more important to keep 10 offensive linemen instead of 10 DBs. Whatever, Shaw is the key guy because he can play both cornerback and safety. On Thursday he started out as their slot corner and held up pretty well at a spot they hope Dennard (ankle) will hold down in the opener when he comes back from injury.

Iloka and Williams are great examples of how Lewis wants his safeties to be a combination of strong and free. That's why they're starting and got paid. But backup Derron Smith may be their best pure free safety. At 5-10, 200 pounds, he's small but he roams like an old-fashioned center-fielder and now has a pick-six to prove it.     


K Mike Nugent (12), P Kevin Huber (8), LS Clark Harris (8), K Zach Hocker (2)

Who heaved a bigger sigh of relief when Nugent hit that 50-yarder in Detroit in the fourth quarter? Nugent or Bengaldom? Is there a little collar-tugging in camp after he missed two kicks Thursday following the missed 48-yard field goal in the opener? Probably not given he's been pretty reliable down through the years. But they didn't let Hocker (ankle) go when he got hurt and it's believed he'll be ready to kick in Jacksonville.

But think of this. Nugent is quietly heading into his seventh season as a Bengal, the same number of years Doug Pelfrey and Shayne Graham served. He's been good and they expect him to be.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.