The preseason is over and the depth chart is set. Let’s take a look at a few of the finer points of your Cincinnati Bengals pecking order. Check out the full depth chart at ourlads.com. James spoke with Geoff Hobson of Bengals.comabout a few of these positions, including Alex Redmond winning the starting right guard spot, but let’s take a look at a few more.
|Pos||No||Player 1||No||Player 2|
|LG||65||Boling, Clint 11/4||63||Westerman, Christian 16/5|
Christian Westerman: The odds-on social media favorite to land the right guard starting sport will, instead, back up Clint Boling. Pro Football Focus continually graded Westerman’s performances highly, leading to an A. J. McCarron-esque clamoring. All armchair general managers in the 513 had all but purchased their No. 63 jerseys, only to find they’re hero riding the pine pony for week one.
For those of you lighting your torches and dusting off your pitchforks, settle down for a second. The right side of this line may be fluid for the first few weeks. Sure, Redmond and Hart are penciled in, but pencils have erasers, and those two should not get comfy. Redmond has shown flashes in the run game, which is where he earned the spot, but he has a lot of room for improvement. Westerman will have his chance in 2018.
|LDE||96||Dunlap, Carlos 10/2||94||Hubbard, Sam 18/3|
|NT||99||Billings, Andrew 16/4||68||Tupou, Josh CF17|
|RDT||97||ATKINS, GENO 10/4||98||Glasgow, Ryan 17/4|
|RDE||90||JOHNSON, MICHAEL CC/TB||75||Willis, Jordan 17/3||58||Lawson, Carl 17/4|
The Defensive Line: The unquestioned strength of the Bengals, people will quickly point out Carl Lawson and Jordan Willis being labeled as anything other than “Player 1.” This should not worry you. Some may have thought the cutting of Michael Johnson would lead to more playing time for Willis and Lawson, but it was actually one of the slickest front office moves I’ve seen the Bengals do in a long time. However, his not-departure does not spell irrelevancy for the young guns behind him.
The preseason showed that Marvin Lewis and Teryl Austin are going to mix-and-match this defensive line group in more ways than would be reasonable to sit down and count. I remember seeing more than a few plays ran by what I like to call the “death lineup” of, in no particular arrangement, Lawson, Willis, Geno Atkins, and Carlos Dunlap. They ran it against the Bills, a bunch, which gave all those wearing red and blue nightmares. Also factor in that Lawson could play a sort of rushing linebacker in some base formations, with Andrew Billings sliding into the interior. Then you have five really good rushers going up against five reasonably frightened offensive linemen. I can’t wait to watch this group work!
|RWR||83||Boyd, Tyler 16/2||15||Ross, John 17/1||12||Erickson, Alex CF16|
Tyler Boyd: This isn’t an original thought, here, but watching him work during the preseason evoked images of T. J. Housmanzadeh, so I am not surprised by him being listed as the No.2 guy. Now, I do not think the Bengals run a lot of two wide receiver sets this year, and will have John Ross on the field, more times than not, so I do not see this as an indictment on him. Look for Boyd’s name to be called on a lot of 3rd-and-fives, 3rd-and-sixes.
|RB||28||Mixon, Joe 17/2||25||Bernard, Giovani 13/2||32||Walton, Mark 18/4||33||Carson, Tra CF16|
Mark Walton: This thought is ranging toward the area of insignificant, but I feel it bears mentioning. He was outplayed in the preseason by Brian Hill, yet Hill no longer remains with Cincinnati. Some of those aforementioned armchair general managers were surprised, at least on social media, that he made the team. The key is, he’s got talent. Fantasy football is by no means a good evaluator of real-life football, in the sense that it should not determine how a real-life franchise runs their roster, but there were national pundits lauding Walton as a sleeper in dynasty formats. He’s got that athleticism that coaches are looking for in the spread-offense running back, and deserves more than a handful of meaningless preseason snaps to prove it.
Also, shout out to Clark Harris for another year in stripes, snapping the pigskin.
Keep your eye on @lockedonBengals and @JamesRapien on Twitter and check out @jefffcarr, now, for your daily Bengals content.
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Mark Walton is Ready for the Challenge
This Sunday, the Cincinnati Bengals will look for production out of their rookie running back they selected in the fourth round. Some expressed concern over the pick, but make no mistake, Mark Walton is ready to showcase his talent.
Chances are, if you’re reading this, you saw his performance in the preseason, and you may have had some questions. Let me enlighten you as to why I am looking forward to…no…excited to see Walton get some plays in.
Walton saw his junior season cut short due to an ankle injury, but before that happened, he compiled a pair of impressive games. He became just the fifth Miami Hurricane to ever rush for 200+ yards in a game, and he did it on 11 carries! Here are some highlights from that game:
His last full season of college football, 2016, he was the starter, as a sophomore, for the Hurricanes. He rushed for 1,117 yards and 14 touchdowns. He made it on to the third team, All-ACC, according to the ACSMA and ACC coaches, and that was in a year that guys like Dalvin Cook, James Conner, and Wayne Gallman all made All-Conference in the ACC. Here are a few highlights from his sophomore campaign:
Walton was touted as a steal by some national writers (the same who have dogged the Bengals this year). He’s got winning pedigree, because he won a state title with Booker T. Washington high school, in Miami, and he ran a 4.6 40-yd dash. He profiles, according to NFL.com, as a third-down back with speed on the outside and decent hands. Look for him to spell Gio on some passing downs and, maybe, even see them in, together, if Bill Lazor decides to get creative. I mean, come on, if he’s this good in shorts, he’s a shoe-in to turn some heads when he puts on the pads:
Make sure you’ve got your subscription to the podcast, you’ve rated it five stars, and you keep your Twitter feed tuned in to @lockedonBengals, @jamesrapien, and @jefffcarr for all your daily Bengals content, throughout the season.
The offense should survive without Price and Mixon
I discuss the Bengals’ offense, why they should survive without Billy Price and Joe Mixon, plus I chat with Darqueze Dennard on today’s podcast. Listen and subscribe below.
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