TAMPA, Fla. - The one guy missing from the victorious Bengals news conferences at Raymond James Stadium is a guy they hope isn't missing for very long.
After the 19-14 victory over the Buccaneers in the preseason opener, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said rookie edger Joseph Ossai is going to have his wrist evaluated Sunday. According to Pro Football Focus, the third-rounder from Texas had five pressures in 22 snaps, best of all the rookies this opening weekend.
The biggest one of all, of course, was the sack of GOAT Tom Brady that he shared with Trey Hendrickson that ended the game's first series as defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo flashed one of the pressure packages on the sixth and final play for the first defense. He left in the third quarter when he and rookie linebacker Darius Hodge collided at the quarterback to force an incompletion.
It happened on a night the defense came up as big as Ossai. They held the Bucs to just 29 yards rushing and 159 total. Which means the backups swarmed in the second half and allowed just 32 yards.
"There was a lot of 'Who's 58?' I heard a lot of that," Taylor said of Ossai's jersey number. "I think overall our defense played with a lot of energy. You saw the rushing yards they had and we got after the passer. I challenged these guys in the turnover battle. We were down 3-0 at halftime and came out and got two right away interceptions by safeties Trayvon Henderson and Kavon Frazier off tips). I was encouraged by a lot of things I saw there."
EVANS COMES UP BIG: Rookie running back Chris Evans finished with just 25 yards on 12 carries and 33 yards on four catches, but he was all over the field making clutch plays. He scored the Bengals' lone touchdown on third-and-one and caught a screen on third down to set up field goal while showing some tough, inside twisting moves.
"I was looking at how big they were," said Evans, a sixth-rounder from Michigan, about the Bucs defense. "After the first couple of hits, I got acquainted. I'm supposed to be here. I've been playing football my whole life."
Bucs monstrous defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul, in particular, caught his eye before Evans got into the game.
"When the ones were out there, they were huge. Pierre-Paul was looking like a creation," Evans said. "But when the twos came in, I was like OK, OK, this looks a little more familiar."
NO. GETS NO. 1: First-round pick Ja'Marr Chase got his first catch on the first series in classic fashion, a 16-yard gain on a receiver screen. Chase romped behind left tackle Jonah Williams, clearly savoring his first touch since the 2019 national title game.
Wide receiver Tee Higgins was teasing him about not breaking it.
"I was setting up my next block," Chase said. "I wish I'd hit it a little quicker, maybe I would have got more. It happened so fast. The game was slower than practice, but that play, bang, it was right there."
Taylor's plan had been to get one touch for all three of his receivers. Higgins had to wait until the second series for an 11-yarder.
"He didn't have to say anything," said quarterback Brandon Allen. "I was going to get him his catch and get him out."
SLANTS AND SCREENS: The Bengals offensive line allowed no sacks and two quarterback hits ... Cornerback Darius Phillips had two passes defensed to go with a 40-yard kick return ... Rookie D'Ante Smith played both left guard and left tackle.