The very long, very tiring offseason is finally over, and we’re just a few short weeks away from the NFL season.
Before that though, fans have to first make it through the normally-boring preseason. Last night’s preseason opener for the Cincinnati Bengals vs. the Altanta Falcons was very much the opposite, however. In what seemed to be a night for the underdogs to show head coach Marvin Lewis why they deserve a spot on the 2013 Bengals’ final 53-man roster, the backups stepped up their game and really gave Lewis something to think about.
Josh Johnson gave the coaches great reason for why they should look to him to be the no. 1 backup to starting quarterback Andy Dalton last night when he passed for 100 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown to Brandon Tate, as well as rushing for a further 63 yards on four carries.
Although he showed a lack of control on the ball at times, he showed that he has a powerful arm as he fought to give himself the stronger case for the backup QB job over John Skelton. At this point, it seems that the backup spot could belong to Johnson, although Skelton himself put on a decent show with 4-of-5 passing for 72 yards and a touchdown.
The night, however, belonged to the third-year undrafted wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher out of Ohio State. Late in the third quarter, Falcons punter Matt Bosher punted the ball downfield to Sanzenbacher after a three-and-out, and the receiver proceeded to cut and run his way to a 71-yard return for a touchdown, giving the Bengals a 27-10 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Just as he closed out the third quarter, Sanzenbacher opened up the fourth quarter and closed out the evening’s scoring at 34-10 with a touchdown just one minute and 11 seconds in. Quarterback Skelton led the Bengals on a seven-play, 78-yard drive that ended with a 36-yard touchdown pass.
Sanzenbacher had a good game overall, looking strong in the slot position and finishing the day with 59 yards receiving. He could be in a good position to keep his spot when the cuts happen before the offseason.
The thumping that the Falcons experienced at the hands of the Bengals is unfortunately not to be taken as a ‘what’s in store’ for the 2013, because no one wants to give too much away in the preseason and the two teams never played at full strength. However, if the Bengals’ backups are able to play the kind of football they played last night, then fans should be in store for a treat this coming season.
Simon Greene – Cincinnati Bengals Writer. Be sure to follow Simon on Twitter @simongreene88