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.
Tags: Antonio Bryant, Cut down battle
Posted in Hobson's Choice | 13 Comments »