Bengals: Receiving options dwindling
Despite some struggles in the red zone, the Bengals offense has performed well through two games; play along the offensive line has been strong (Andy Dalton has been pressured on only 10 of his 63 dropbacks), the young HB duo, of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill, has run effectively. The question now is whether the injuries piling up in the receiving core will hamper this unit.
After his breakout year in 2013, including eight catches of 20 yards or more, the loss of Marvin Jones to a broken foot was a big one during training camp. Unfortunately, the hits kept coming as Tyler Eifert went down after only eight snaps in the opener and was placed on injured reserve with designation for return. Against the Atlanta Falcons, both A.J. Green and tight end Alex Smith left early, with Smith’s injury landing him on IR.
Green practiced for the first time this week on Thursday, and if he can’t go this weekend, the depth chart at wide receiver will be very thin. Mohamed Sanu and Brandon Tate have picked up the slack thus far, with Tate already playing more snaps on offense then he did all of last year. Dane Sanzenbacher, who has been more of a special teams contributor, is next in line. At tight end, the Bengals signed journeyman Kevin Brock this week. Brock logged 76 snaps last year with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013, grading out at an uninspiring -2.0 overall. Look for the Bengals to rely even more heavily on Bernard’s pass-catching abilities (3.36 Yards per Route Run – 2nd best in the NFL among HBs) this weekend against Tennessee. That week four bye is looking pretty good right now.