WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

Notes, Quotes

The Sports Xchange

July 24, 2018 at 1:10 am.

–Will William Jackson III continue to be a shutdown corner like Darrelle Revis was in his prime with the Jets? He missed his rookie season due to injury, but emerged as someone opposing quarterbacks shied away from, especially when cornerback Adam Jones was put on injured reserve. According to Pro Football Focus, he allowed only 34.9 percent of targets thrown his way to be caught. Not only did that mark lead the league, it was the second-highest score ever recorded. The focus will be on him after he contained Antonio Brown twice last season. He will certainly get the chance to play more snaps and the Bengals are hoping he provides more defensive highlights, especially since head coach Marvin Lewis compared him to the likes of Leon Hall and Johnathan Jackson last month.

–An area the Bengals were deficient in was creating turnovers. The Bengals were among the worst in the league as they ranked 30th with 14 forced turnovers and dead last with four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. It was the second straight season Cincinnati’s defense faltered with forcing turnovers. To remedy the issue, new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin began encouraging his players to pounce on any loose ball, something that began in rookie minicamp and will continue when training camp opens.

“You never know during the course of a game how many times you see the ball on the ground and nobody goes after it,” Austin said during last month’s OTAs. “You make an assumption that it’s not a live ball and it is, so that’s why everything is a live ball for us.”

Austin is in his first season with the Bengals after former defensive coordinator Paul Guenther left to fill the same role with the Oakland Raiders. It is the same tactic Austin employed in his four seasons as the defensive coordinator with the Detroit Lions. Last season, Detroit placed third in the league with 32 forced turnovers and second with 13 fumble recoveries.

TOP THREE GOALS IN CAMP

–The Bengals need to determine whether or not speedy wide receiver John Ross can contribute. Reports indicate that he looked good during the offseason, but the jury is out after he missed most of his rookie season with injuries. If he can be effective, he will give quarterback Andy Dalton a speedy weapon on the outside and take some of the pressure off wide receiver A.J. Green.

–Shoring up the offensive line is a concern heading into preseason camp. The unit was one of the weakest in the NFL last season and the Bengals took some steps in the offseason to address the problem. A trade with the Buffalo Bills for Cordy Glenn should solidify the left tackle spot and rookie Billy Price is almost assuredly the starter at center. The biggest question mark appears to be at right tackle, where Cedric Ogbuehi, who struggled mightily last year, and Jake Fisher look to be the front-runners.

–Linebacker Vontaze Burfict’s suspension muddles the linebacker situation. Despite all the trouble Burfict has caused the Bengals with his behavior, the team maintains that it will not move on from him. With Burfict not available until early October, the Bengals will be forced to do some shuffling. Preston Brown, the Bills’ former leading tackler, should help.

TOP SUMMER BATTLE

–Defensive end. The spot opposite Carlos Dunlap could be a dogfight among several candidates. Michael Johnson is the front-runner, but Jordan Willis and rookie third-round draft pick Sam Hubbard could push for playing time. There’s also Carl Lawson, who emerged during his rookie year as a pass-rushing specialist as an outside linebacker. He bulked up during the offseason and could be utilized as a stand-up rusher.

 

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