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More Quick Hits: Bengals Rookie WRs Keep Catching On; Jonah Pleased With RT Debut

CB Cam Taylor-Britt takes on Rb Bijan Robinson during the Bengals-Falcons game in week 2 of the 2023 preseason.
CB Cam Taylor-Britt takes on Rb Bijan Robinson during the Bengals-Falcons game in week 2 of the 2023 preseason.

ATLANTA _ Bengals rookie wide receiver Andrei Iosivas was supposed to make the team but marinate on the inactive list. For at least the early part of the season. But in Friday night's 13-13 preseason verdict with the Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, he's shown how far he's come as a possible Opening Day active.

Bengals head coach Zac Taylor showed he's thinking about it, taking him out of a series and then bringing him off the bench and putting him at gunner for a rep, something he'd be doing in a game because no one is playing in front of The Big Three at receiver.

So a week after Iosivas led them with five catches for 50 yards, he did it again with five more for 44 Friday night that included a frosty 18-yard back-shoulder catch at the 5 from quarterback Jake Browning to set up running back Chase Brown's two carries for five yards and the touchdown with 50 seconds left that gave them that brief 13-10 lead.

Iosivas is the sixth-round pick and with fourth-round wide receiver Charlie Jones converting two third downs out of his four catches for 36 yards and Brown bulling for those five yards, the Bengals had a nice last day of the draft Friday night.

"I felt more like myself out there," said Jones, who looked much more confident after nursing a sore shoulder the week before. "I'm just getting adjusted a little bit mentally. Just believe that you belong. After that, you're just playing football."

Iosivas and Jones showed how much they belonged in the last ten seconds of a tepid first half the Bengals trailed, 3-0, when their two catches for 21 yards from quarterback Trevor Siemian set up Evan McPherson's 50-yard field goal. The 6-0, 185-pound Jones executed a nice boxout on the sideline to convert the Bengals' first third down of the night on third-and-10 for an 11-yard gain to stop the clock and then Iosivas added ten more across the middle.

The 6-3, 205-pound Iosivas has wrestled enough balls away to show that the first Ivy League player the Bengals have drafted this century belongs. With ten more targets Friday, the quarterbacks certainly believe in The Princeton Prodigy. And he was up for the moment when he sensed Browning needed him on the last drive.

"I kind of knew it was going to come to me. He was pressed, late in the fourth quarter. There's only one thing you can do and drive the ball down the field, so I just had to prepare for that," Iosivas said. "You just have to run down the field as fast as you can and get out of bounds."

Iosivas played the second most snaps on offense with 56 and added eight more on special teams.

"I had one snap at gunner, the rest on kickoff and punt. I was pretty tired at that point," Iosivas said. "I came in working on a couple of things and I thought they came out pretty well. Like my releases, my drives to the ball through my go routes. Sometimes I don't connect. Overall, I had some ups and downs and still learned a lot. As long as I was open, we can work on the timing of the routes more and more. I just want to get open."

Jones played 39 snaps and his one turn on special teams was a confident 11-yard punt return.

JONAH STEPS IN: Jonah Williams played his first 11 NFL snaps at right tackle Friday when he was the only offensive starter to participate in the opening drive. He had been toying with going to the coaches to request to play, but they beat him to it and he was feeling pretty good after the game.

"It was good. I thought it went well. I got some live game reps, got some jitters out," Williams said. "Yeah, in practice we go hard. The joint practice was fast. But game speed just feels a little different. In the stadium, feeling the pressure of a game. It was good to get my first right tackle snaps out of the way. I thought the second week was a good time to get the live reps. I don't have to think about it anymore. We're about at the halfway point of camp, week two of the preseason. It's going to keep getting better."

OTHER OL MATTERS: Jackson Carman, once in the competition with Williams at right tackle, played all 63 snaps at left tackle, the only Bengal to play every snap Friday. A week after his first NFL action at center, Max Scharping started at center and played there for the first half before he and right guard Trey Hill switched to open the second half. Cody Ford again started at left guard. Browning forged his two-minute drill behind Ford, Carman and elements of the third offensive line, where there's a big battle for the practice squad.

The results were mixed. Browning's four scrambles for 50 yards led them in rushing. Brown (18 yards on nine carries) and the other back, Chris Evans (seven carries for 15 yards ), had tough sledding. Brown did show some tough goal-line running and had a ten-yard run while the line allowed only one sack on 37 drop-backs.

SLANTS AND SCREENS: Defensive end Joseph Ossai caught the Mike Hilton tip to end that 10-minute opening drive on the Falcons 3 and recalled it was his first interception since Texas played LSU in 2019 and he picked off some kid named Joe Burrow.

"He was unbelievable that year," Ossai said. "It was the same kind of thing. A tipped pass."

Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder never threw an interception in his four starts last year, but Ossai got him, too. He admitted the defense got the best of both worlds. A lot of work and a red-zone turnover.

"Hopefully, we can remember when we're in that situation with our backs against it, we came up with a play," Ossai said. "We're battle-tested and those are the battles we have."

Starting cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt didn't think the first defense was rusty. He did have a rare missed tackle on a first-down play by wide receiver Mack Hollins ("He got me on an inside-out tackle. I had a bad angle") but he also had three vintage CTB tackles on that first series before exiting.

"(The red zone defense) showed up today," Taylor-Britt said. "It would have been good to get a three-and-out. That's the expectation. But yards don't equal points so we're good." …

A good night for the specialists. Rookie punter Brad Robbins had a 52-yard punt out of his own end zone and dropped the other one inside the 20. . Dru Chrisman's first punt of the year pinned the Falcons at the 8. Jones' 11-yard punt return was complemented by Evans' 35-yard kick return. McPherson had his second 50-yarder of the preseason (from 50), and is now 6-for-6 this year …

And when it comes to rookie wide receivers, there is also undrafted Shed Jackson out of Auburn as he keeps impressing in his bid for the practice squad. He was right there with Iosivas Friday. Each had four catches and a long of 18 yards. Jackson also drew a 30-yard pass interference penalty ...