By Brian Kalchik @BrianKalchik on April 14, 2014
The Cincinnati Bengals have gone through some tremendous upheaval this offseason. From losing coordinators Jay Gruden and Mike Zimmer to Michael Johnson and James Harrison departing in free agency, this is a crucial year for the Cincinnati Bengals.
With more expected player turnover, some players are expected to step up this year. Here are my five breakout candidates for the Bengals.
With Domata Peko starting to get up there in age and star defensive tackle Geno Atkins coming off an ACL injury, I expect second-year defensive tackle Devon Still to step up in 2014.
Whether as a situational pass rusher or a starter if Atkins doesn't recover, Still was talented enough out of college to be a second-round pick in 2012 and has to justify his selection in 2014.
After tagging Michael Johnson the past two seasons, the Bengals are now expecting Wallace Gilberry to replace Johnson and become the next great Bengals pass rusher.
Gilberry excelled as a situational pass rusher last year, but now he will be asked to replace Johnson, who was a great defensive end.
Marvin Jones broke out last year as a wide receiver for Cincinnati, and Mohamed Sanu will have to break out this year as well.
Sanu has the versatility to do plenty of things on offense. He is a good runner and passer out of the wildcat and is a good receiver. 2014 is the year in which Sanu has to become a main player for the Bengals rather than a bit player.
Former first-round pick Dre Kirkpatrick has had a slow start to his career, and that is no understatement. With Terence Newman and Leon Hall both in their 30s and Hall coming off a torn ACL, Kirkpatrick has to be a major contributor this year.
Kirkpatrick started to play well last season after a lost rookie season in 2012, but will have to step it up in 2014 or else he will be one of the biggest busts in franchise history.
Andy Dalton is already a good quarterback, but he has to break out and become a great quarterback in 2014. Ultimately, his future in Cincinnati will depend on him winning a playoff game, something that he hasn't done in three straight years.
Dalton's inconsistency down the stretch has hampered Cincinnati when it matters most.
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