Two-minute drill

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on August 30, 2010 – 5:23 am

A two-minute drill of observations heading into the last week of the preseason:

2:00: Antonio Bryant is a good man with a big heart and that passion may have done him in with the Bucs and Bengals.

He basically admitted last week that he came back too early from his knee injury last preseason in Tampa and that this spring he became so immersed in trying to get to know the offense and get in sync with his teammates in Cincinnati that he hurried on to the field and didn’t tend to the details of rehab.

Here’s a guy that could have taken the money and run but didn’t. Twice. He was the franchise player in Tampa in ’09 before getting what amounted to a $7.85 million here, according to reports. Throw in the money the Bengals gave Laveranues Coles last year and that’s a grand total of nearly $18 million wasted trying to replace T.J. Houshmandzadeh, still playing in Seattle.

There are those here that wonder if Houshmandzadeh would have been hard to handle here last year in a run-first offense. But now there is no wondering about this: The Bengals have to take a wide receiver in the first round next year.

1:53: The Bengals are going to get grilled for this one. What was the bigger mistake? Signing him with the knee like that? Or letting him practice that first day of training camp, taking away the option of putting him on the physical unable to play list (PUP) and letting him have six more weeks to work it out and maybe have him for a stretch run? But the fact they didn’t put him on IR or reach an injury settlement with him would indicate they don’t think he could have helped them next year, anyway.   

They didn’t make the biggest mistake, which is keeping him in place of a young guy like Quan Cosby or Jerome Simpson in the hopes they could squeeze something out of the investment. That would have been the hat trick.

1:37: So who gets the final two spots? With Maurice Purify hurt and Matt Jones catching just four balls in four games, does Simpson have the upper hand going into Thursday’s preseason finale in Indianapolis?  (Word is that he was in the right spot on the Jordan Palmer interception that ended up a TD Saturday.) If he does, is that sixth and final spot being contested by Cosby and Dez Briscoe? And is it a contest? Cosby has played the best in the games of any receiver trying to make it.

1:23: Mike Nugent showed Saturday why the Bengals signed him thinking he would be a solid replacement for Shayne Graham when he flashed that second-round leg with the 54-yard field goal Saturday night in Buffalo.  Remember, this is a guy that made more than 80 percent of his tries with the Jets before he got hurt. Yes, the downside is he doesn’t boom kickoffs. But if they think he’s now healthy, he may have done enough to convince them.

1:10: Say what you want about the defense giving up 21 points in the first half but when they had their first secondary and line in there in the first quarter, rookie running back C.J. Spiller couldn’t get to the edge. Plus, they were so banged up it brought back memories of how they limped through the playoff game last year. Their best move was leaving so many guys home, from the three defensive linemen to the four DBs. Memo to Mike Zimmer: Ice them again Thursday.

1:03: Will a fourth safety please stand up? Rico Murray may have with some nice hits on a night he finished with four tackles from scrimmage and one on special teams. Special teams captain Kyries Hebert led the team along with linebackers Brandon Johnson and Roddrick Muckelroy with five tackles. Murray’s edge on Hebert is he can also play some cornerback. But Hebert is a bigger factor on special teams.  Maybe the fourth safety isn’t here yet.

0:55: Even though he hasn’t played in the last two games, it looks like linebacker/fullback Dan Skuta (ankle) is going to make it. Look for him to play in Indy. That would give them six backers with Skuta and Brandon and Michael Johnson backing up. Is that all they’re going to keep now that they have to keep an extra running back with the Brian Leonard injury? That still leaves guys like veteran special-teamer Abdul Hodge and a fourth-round pick, Muckelroy, outside looking in.

0:47: Fullback Fui Vakapuna (shoulder) has yet to play in a game. It looks like they’re trying to protect him for the season but it would seem they are covered if he can’t go with Skuta and a combination of tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Reggie Kelly. They could always not go with a fullback and go with four tight ends but it seems that they tried to make Dan Coats a fullback once before and moved him back to tight end.

0:34: Huge battle at running back for that last spot with James Johnson and Cedric Peerman. It seems they are fighting for the right to be cut when Leonard returns in the first couple of games of the season. But there is also a larger issue of backup bell cow running back. Offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski talked about that last week.

All his backs seem to have a different specialty. But Cedric Benson looks like the one guy that can pound it 75 to 80 times in a month of games. Bratkowski said they could get by for a couple of games with Bernard Scott and Leonard/Peerman/Johnson if Benson was shelved, but would probably have to look elsewhere if it was for a longer period.

0:28: Maybe it’s just me, but rookie end Carlos Dunlap looks quite active out there. The defensive line is no doubt the hottest battle heading into Indy. Whether they keep eight or nine. These guys would look to have spots:  Robert Geathers, Antwan Odom, Domata Peko, Tank Johnson, Jon Fanene, Geno Atkins, Dunlap. Maybe Frostee Rucker and Pat Sims, too.  But that gives you nine and defensive tackle Clinton McDonald is a guy they’ve always liked.

0:15:  See why backup tackle Anthony Collins is so valuable? Without him, Dennis Roland is the backup left tackle and while he does a solid job over at right tackle, he’s not the answer at left. They’re hoping Collins (ankle) is ready for the opener.

0:07: Left guard Evan Mathis got a lot of snaps at center Saturday with rookie center Reggie Stephens working at left guard. So they may be trying to decide if they need to go get a backup guard/center or if they’re OK with what they’ve got.

0:00. Big day on the river Sunday Sept. 5. Riverfest while everybody is listening to Reds-Cardinals from St. Louis down river.

It is also the day the Bengals finalize the 53-man roster after cuts on Saturday the 4th. So how many guys that aren’t here now are going to be on that roster? They already have a list of guys they think are going to get cut elsewhere and will make their cuts accordingly. In years past, that’s how they came up with Graham and Ryan Fitzpatrick, but the anticipation of what’s going to be out there always seems to exceed what is actually left.

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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 13 Comments »

13 Responses to “Two-minute drill”

  1. By whodey2010 on Aug 30, 2010 | Reply

    While he may be a great human, they made the right move with Bryant. Any true Bengals fan had to have doubts the day he signed, coming off surgery on an injured knee, because we’ve lived through Kenny Irons,Chris Perry, David Pollack, and Ki-Jana Carter to name a few. When you’re paying that kind of money, it can be crippling to get stuck with that contract for a guy that doesn’t play. I agree that it appears WR is a 1st Rnd. priority next year, and it’s supposed to be a WR heavy draft class. But don’t sleep on safety. If there’s a ball hawk out there, our hands may be forced and wait til the 2nd for a receiver. For now, I say we keep Briscoe and I’ll wait til next week to decide between Cosby and Simpson. Simpson has the edge in my eyes because we need a jump ball receiver for short endzone passes, and that’s his specialty. I’m also still a fan of going with 7, Matt Jones, and cutting O’Sullivan and using Jones as emergency 3rd string QB. Even though I know it won’t happen. I also think we have to go with 9 on the D-Line, because they will all play, and all be effective. I think Muck and Rey would be a dream on the Practice Squad, and hope they stick. RB is more of a crap shoot. Personally, I’d look into trading for Marshawn Lynch. The asking price may be low, and he can be a bell cow if anything happens to Benson. He reminds me alot of Benson, but a better receiver. Just a thought, though this probably won’t happen either…..I’ll feel much better when this is all done, and we actually play games that can’t count. WHO DEY!

  2. By theredbengal on Aug 30, 2010 | Reply

    Bryant must not be even close to getting on the field. It’s too bad, because when healthy, he’s an amazing player. The whole situation is extremely disappointing. Sure, they lose money on the guy, but they also signed TO at a discount later, so I guess it evens out?

    Now, who makes up the final two receiver spots? Cosby, for sure, has one. I don’t think that is even a debate. He’s on darn near all special teams plays, and is just a reliable player. So the final spot is down to Simpson and Jones. Matt Jones has not really impressed through the preseason, but he at least has a track record of success in this league. Simpson still seems to not be able to put it all together. Can they carry the guy again, fully knowing that a 3rd straight season of no production is very probable? Memo to Bengals: cut the tie with Simpson, keep Jones. Here’s a scenario: Chad breaks his leg and is done for the season, with Caldwell already hurt. Who do you feel more comfortable with plugging into Chad’s spot: Simpson and his 1 career catch, or Jones, with his 166 catches and 15 TDs?

    Can Vakapuna really make this squad without playing in a preseason game? Are they that comfortable with him? I guess if they aren’t with Tronzo or Coats, then they’ll just wait til Vakapuna recovers…

    With roster spots at a premium, does it make sense to keep 3 QBs instead of an Abdul Hodge/Frostee Rucker/Kyries Hebert/David Jones/Morgan Trent? The answer should be no. If the 3rd QB has to take snaps, the season is over anyway. Personally, this a reason you keep Matt Jones. Carson and JTO were to go down, at least Jones could take the snaps and hand off.

    With all due respect to Whodey2010, it’s insane to consider keeping 7 receivers. Maybe it wasn’t in years past, but it is this year.

    Tons of questions remain, with not much time to answer them.

  3. By hobsonschoice1 on Aug 30, 2010 | Reply

    DEY: Couldn’t agree with you more about these preseason games. Five in 25 days is pure torture when the only thing you worry about is injuries.

    I’m also with you on the D-Line. They can talk about the Saints and Colts and Patriots and Eagles all this scoring 30 points a game Red-Zone-Channel B.S. all they want. But it is still a basic game.You’re only as good as your two lines.

    I don’t know if Lynch is the guy, but if you see a bell cow out there and you’re going to keep four back until Brian Leonard comes back any way, go get him. The problem is, how long can you keep four?

  4. By coachwine on Aug 30, 2010 | Reply

    I focused on Andre Smith more than any other individual player; He looked horrible most of the time–fat, slow, overpowered. The need Collins back badly.

    The first team offense is rounding into great shape. Carson really threaded it in there on some gutsy catches by Greaham, TO and Chad. TO in particular on the heavy traffic catch and tuck. NFL players are tough men! How can teams cover all their options with just 11 players in that speed-up offense?

    Hate to see that about Bryant. I’m just wondering about his willingness to get out on the field that one time then dropping off the face of the earth. Was that a money grab spawned by a greedy agent wanting to squeeze every cheesy dime from a team that already gave the guy WAY too much already. Does deception factor in on these grievances? Smith was classless if quoted correctly in the Enquirer.

    Still glad I don’t have to be the one making some of these cuts. Bengals will lose some good players in that. But I can say that they are in deep trouble if something happens to Carson, O’Sullivan looks horrible–can’t see the field.

  5. By whodey2010 on Aug 30, 2010 | Reply

    While I understand it’s hard to keep four, I don’t see B Scott or Leonard as bell cow backs. They’re both good 3rd Down backs, but I feel both are a bit fraile. 80 carries a month would equal short careers for either of them. And I would love to see Leonard play FB if Fui doesn’t work out. I hope he does, and even think we could still use Leonard at FB and B Scott on some 3rd Down and long packages because of their receiving abilities. But if Benson gets banged up and is out for a significant time, do we stick with B Scott and hope he holds up? And what if he doesn’t? I just think Lynch is built for this system, and this is too important of a season to suffer a Benson loss without some type of similar insurance. And just like T.O. is motivating Chad, this would have to motivate Ced even more. We can deal with the jam after the season’s over, and you never know, Lynch may be better than Benson and make him expendable. Let’s not forget the beasty flashes he’s shown on a mediocre team with a less than mediocre line, QB, and Lee Evans as the only other threat…..He’s torched us in the past.

  6. By 2ndboot on Aug 30, 2010 | Reply

    Geoff…Hobby..Please don’t tell us you REALLY wrote all that in two minutes! OK, so I type with two fingers.. maybe you did. 😉
    Note to Mike Brown: I’ll come and not catch any passes for FAR less money..AND entertain the masses with my cane and twitter while I’m there. A 51 year old guy with long hair and walks with a cane at WR..CHEAP! Tell me that wouldn’t bring out the curiosity seekers to sell tickets!
    Another spot I know many will be wanting next year is a solid backup QB if not sooner. I have no real problems with O’suddenly except that when he first comes in he looks frightened and mad at the entire world at the same time and then he settles down and does..well, OK…
    If TO puts up solid numbers and returns next season where will that leave the WR spot? I have a feeling both TO and Ocho will be gone, but stranger things have happened. That would leave a huge vacuum at WR wouldn’t it? Safety is also tantamount and if they once again ignore that spot half of all Bengals fans will scream treason and want someone’s head on the flag pole at PBS.
    The odds of all 3 just falling out of the sky on cut down day seems kind of less than likely wouldn’t you say? A back…maybe, but top shelf WR’s, safety’s and QBs don’t just fall on cut down days all that often.
    Now, about that bell carrier… 51..cane..long hair and works for REAL CHEAP there Mikey! Sleep on it! LOL

  7. By bengalanthony13 on Aug 30, 2010 | Reply

    Geoff —

    A quick unrelated question for you, which I know you’ve touched on here and there: I was watching a little bit of the Colts/Packers game this morning. In it, Rodgers drew the D-Line offsides, threw a long ball to James Jones (WR), and then a defensive pass interference penalty was also subsequently called and got them to the 5 yard line. Why does Carson take a knee on a play like this? You can talk about injury, which is unlikely, or a turnover, which wouldn’t matter as the play would be negated from there and they’d AT LEAST get five yards. On top of that, Carson sometimes takes a knee when he THINKS he’s drawn the defense offsides and it costs the Bengals like 5 yards. Why don’t they try and make a play there? It could end up being a big swing for the offense as the defense is already on its heels? It’s really frustrating.

    Regarding this article, I agree with the blogger above: they need to keep Briscoe and Cosby as the 5 and 6 WRs. Briscoe won’t make it through the Practice Squad and Cosby is all effort and does everything right. And, yes, next year they need to look at both Safety and WR early in the draft.

  8. By 34inXXIII on Aug 30, 2010 | Reply

    Off topic, but since it was brought up, it’s an oft-discussed issue on the message boards and I’ve been hoping for some inside input on this….

    “By bengalanthony13 on Aug 30, 2010

    I was watching a little bit of the Colts/Packers game this morning. In it, Rodgers drew the D-Line offsides, threw a long ball to James Jones (WR), and then a defensive pass interference penalty was also subsequently called and got them to the 5 yard line. Why does Carson take a knee on a play like this?”

    Hopefully, Geoff will provide the answer, but my guess is that he doesn’t take a knee under such circumstances. When the D-lineman jumps just prior to the PLANNED snap of the ball, they proceed with the called play. If that’s a pass play and they can get a guy deep, they’ll take their shot.

    However, the scenario where Palmer does take the knee appears to occur when the defender jumps well PRIOR to the planned snap of the ball. The only other option there would be to not snap, let the defender get back onside & proceed as planned. If a pass play had been called, it might be a bit easier, but O-line – like all the offensive players – loses the advantage of anticipating the snap count and gaining that brief, but useful first step, putting the QB more at risk.

    In the case of a called running play, I believe the notion of being able to randomly and suddenly switch to pass block mode when anticipating run blocking to be highly unlikely.

    So, the 5 yards the Bengals are getting – or trying to get, anyways – doesn’t come during scenarios when other teams of taking shots downfield; it comes when other teams are sticking to their play call and allowing the defender to get back onside.

    I’d love for you to confirm or deny any of this, Hobson. It will come up again on the boards numerous times this season.

  9. By hobsonschoice1 on Aug 30, 2010 | Reply

    GUYS: They’ve played only about a handful of snaps with a fullback, but it doesn’t seem to have put a crimp in their running game. It’s not ideal but there is something to be said for the versatility a tight end brings back there.

    Brat says it limits them in red zone and goal line, but all I know is they had a fullback last year scored only seven touchdowns in their last 24 red-zone ventures of the season.

    (If Fui isn’t ready by now, will he be?)

    I think Cosby is the people’s choice and it is hard to see him not on the roster. Yeah, I’ve always felt both Simpson and Matt Jones wouldn’t make it together. They bring the same basketballish threat.

    While I have regard for Jones’ 166 career catches and I think he can help a team, I just think Simpson has more explosion, speed, and raw talent. Plus, he’s three years younger and this corps desperately needs some youth so if they keep one, I would think it would be Simpson. I hear you, though. You have no idea what he gives you.

    Coach, I think most teams with franchise quarterbacks figure they are done if their guy gets hurt. The Colts might not win a game in their divison if Manning goes down. But, yeah, not a good effort by these backups. Disturbing enough that it might be time for another trade because there is usually nothing on the wire at QB.

    In fact, everybody gets excited about the Cut down wire until they see who is on it. People are talking about finding a kicker, backup safety, backup QB, and back up bell cow running back all out there on Sunday.

    Maybe a kicker and maybe a back. But that could be it.

  10. By 2ndboot on Aug 31, 2010 | Reply

    If you read the boards you’ll know we should have a 800 man roster because they want to sign every player ever cut anywhere. Realistically though you’re right.. MAYBE 1 or 2 will ever be worth it.
    There is always the unknown, ‘what if’ players who never get that big shot, but the coaching staff and FO can’t worry about every player who MIGHT work out for us. Still every contender will at some point have to make hard choices between a good player and great players and often it’s just a coin flip more or less and you never know what a player MIGHT have done had they been given the big chance with another team.
    Our big problem is they just aren’t going to cut the positions we need in all likeliness.. If they do then hopefully the coaching staff and scouting department will be on it..
    Ready to hold your breath on that?

  11. By 454rat on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    Why not trade Quan while his value is peaking. We have the same guy in Shipley. Everyone says we have two of the same in Jones & Simpson and that one should go. Then why keep both Cosby & Shipley? Instead of cutting and getting nothing, somebody actually work a TRADE! Try to get Pressley back from Tampa – they could use a WR. Swap him to Houston for the kicker that loses their battle. Somebody get creative. Please.

  12. By mwindle1973 on Sep 1, 2010 | Reply

    Trade Quan? He has very little trade value. Why trade him, he’s a 5th or 6th WR at best and that’s what you need is a utility guy that can play all three WR spots and play STs. I happen to think Hobson is wrong. I don’tt think Cosby is on the bubble at all. Conventional logic says he is. But his playing says he is not. And they aren’t going to pass him up for someone who may make big plays at some point in time. I think they will definitely keep Ocho, TO, Shipley, Caldwell & Cosby. And it was either keep Bryant as a ghost player all season or cut him to make room for one of the others. Jones or Simpson would be my guess. I say with SImpson performance at gunner and physical skills he has the leg up. Purify would seem to be out at this point. And Briscoe is a long shot, but you hate to lose him already. And almost definitely will if cut.

  13. By tepidfan31 on Sep 4, 2010 | Reply

    The cut down. My concern is beyond this year relative to WR’s. 1. Chad and TO are in the twilight years of their careers. 2. We have at least 3 good return men in Jones, Shipley, and Scott. 3. I see Shipley being the starter in the slot for years to come, with Caldwell and Cosby backing him up. 4. Briscoe shows a lot of promise and eventually could replace Chad or TO. Therefore, since Caldwell and Cosby are essentially back ups and won’t see that much action, I would rather see Briscoe sitting on the bench, rather than those two.

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