Mario Alford had an exciting debut.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said the Bengals came out of Friday night's 23-10 victory "fairly healthy," after three backups left, cornerback Darqueze Dennard (groin) and running backs Rex Burkhead (neck) and Cedric Peerman (knee)… After a year in purgatory, the defensive line looks poised to get back to the relentless rotation of 2013. Old stand-bys like left end Carlos Dunlap never left with a tackle for a loss when he blew up a pass in the flat. New faces like right end Will Clarke (one quarterback hit and a deflection) showed up and rampaging rookies like Marcus Hardison and DeShawn Williams (a sack each) kept stringing out their impressive training camps.
Cincinnati Bengals host New York Giants at Paul Brown Stadium in their preseason opener 08/14/2015
But like nose tackle Domata Peko says, it all starts with three-time Pro Bowl three technique Geno Atkins.
"It's exciting for our defense. It's exciting for our team. It's exciting to have our guy back," Peko said. "Back at full speed. Out there balling. It just shows the hard work he put in this (off) season. It makes our defense go round. He's one of the biggest keys to our defense's success. It's great to have him back."
Since Atkins took the field in May, he's showing he's found the dominance of 2012 season now that his ACL tear is 22 months in the past. Lewis sees it.
"His quickness off the football and not only that, but also it's the mental part of it," Lewis said. "The fact he understands the offense, he understands the formations, and things that occur that they're trying to block him and run plays. He's able to take advantage of his quickness and so some good things." …
Rookie wide receiver Mario Alford had a good night with a 13-yard catch and a 23-yard run off a reverse. But he also committed a no-no on his first NFL punt return when he caught it around his own 5.
"He's going to get on me in our meeting tomorrow," said Alford, referring to special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons. "I was excited. I really wanted to return it. I've never really returned one ever in a game. But that's no excuse. I have to know where I am on the field."
He returned the next one for eight yards…
Even though right end Margus Hunt has been practicing for the last few days after coming off PUP with his back injury, he didn't play Friday. Also not playing despite practicing were both No. 66s, guard-center Trey Hopkins and defensive tackle Kalafitioni Poe…