For openers, what we’d like to see

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on August 12, 2011 – 4:04 pm

DETROIT — What we’d like to see in Friday’s preseason opener (7:30 p.m., Cincinnati’s Channel 12) at Ford Field against the Lions.

» Eleven men on the field on offense. Not 10. Not 12. No timeouts blown because they can’t get the play in. You’ve got to figure it’s going to be ragged because of the lockout and a rookie quarterback. But there’s a difference between ragged and anarchy, like there seemed to be last season at some points.

» Some nice long 73-yard drives. If they’re in shape, great. If they’re not, they can’t just hop on the elliptical for a workout. They’ve got to do it on the field.

» More play-action, more three-step drops from the quarterback, quicker throws instead of longish developing routes, more moving pockets, things that maybe could have helped Carson Palmer.

» Runs on all snaps of third-and-two or less. Last year they were a brutal 28-for-58 on third-and-two or less with a high percentage of incompletions. They keep talking about adopting the physical mentality. What better way than pounding heads against Messrs. Suh and Williams in the middle of the line Friday?

» More sets with tight ends and fullbacks. Tight ends so it gives offensive coordinator Jay Gruden more flexibility with quarterback Andy Dalton and fullbacks so it gives running back Cedric Benson some room with which to work. Chris Pressley, in his second training camp with the Bengals, looks like a hammer.

» A tired but happy Andre Smith.

» On defense, no busts, no nine-yard runs, no which-way-did-he-go plays. In this first game in the post-Dhani Jones era, it is important for middle linebacker Rey Maualuga to get his guys lined up.

» Tackling. But when you think about it, they didn’t start hitting until training camp even when there wasn’t a lockout. If there’s a problem, head coach Marvin Lewis and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer won’t stand for it.

» More pass rush, of course, so let’s keep an eye on that first nickel package. With left end Carlos Dunlap (knee) most likely out, it won’t have its leading sacker. But it will be interesting to see how Zimmer uses new outside linebackers Manny Lawson and Thomas Howard on the edge on third down, and to see if third-round pick Dontay Moch looks as fast going around the corner in his first game as an edge rusher/SAM backer as he has in practice.

» Some picks in the secondary. They’ve got their hands on a good number of balls, but haven’t caught many. They would no doubt like to see to safety Gibril Wilson able to play after returning to the field this week for the first time in 50 weeks since tearing his ACL.

» Speaking of ACLs, Mike Nugent is kicking in his first game since tearing his in his kicking knee Nov. 14 in Indianapolis. He hasn’t missed in practice yet, but everyone would like him to hit a 41-yarder Friday just the same.

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