Here we are on August the 6th, the Cincinnati Bengals will be opening up the pre-season this Friday with the New York Jets yet there is little buzz in the air about last years team defending their playoff season. Most of that has to do with the fact the Cincinnati Reds are currently one of the best teams in baseball. But as we go into the pre-season there are a few areas that I will be keeping an eye on:
Quarterback: There obviously is no controversy here Andy Dalton will be the starting Quarterback this season. I will be curious to see if her can avoid the ever so present "sophomore slump." I personally think Dalton is above that. With another year of Gruden to fine tune the west coast offense I love Dalton as a game manager and have faith in his abilities. He may not have the explosive arm but he makes good decisions and reads the defense well. As long as he can keep his interceptions down I think he will be primed to have a very successful year.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis: The free agent running back from New England will take over for Cedric Benson. Benson was a very reliable and serviceable running back on the field for Cincinnati and they will undoubtedly hope that Green-Ellis can bring the same production to the table. I am curious to see how they use him in the offense and how they will work in a healthy Bernard Scott. I would guess that they would use Green-Ellis on the goal line but I am interested to see how he responds to the #1 role in Cincinnati.
Defensive Secondary: Watching the scrimmage on Saturday it is clear that Taylor Mays is a freak athlete. He was a first round selection who the Bengals picked up for pennies on the dollar. He was just listed today as the #1 SS and I hope he continues to progress on his coverage because I think he can be a difference makers. I will also keep a close eye on the progress of Leon Hall from injury. There should also be a sprited battle between Nate Clements, Terrence Newman and Jason Allen. There is a lot of experience in the secondary and Mike Zimmer has done a great job of keeping our defensive players fresh.
Bengals Defense: I personally think that this is the best thing we have going for us into this season. From what I have seen in this short training camp our defense has been playing solid and we have built off of a upper echelon defense from last year. I expect solid line play from Peko, Atkins and Dunlap and would love to see an expanded role for another young talent in Pat Sims. Our linebacking core is lacking the big name but a more experienced and hopefully focused Rey Maualuga can anchor a linebacking core than has the ability to be a force. WHO DEY!