1) Much of the roster here is consistent, but one revelation was all Hayden Hearst could bring to the table as a replacement for CJ Uzomah. Where Uzomah was incredibly clever and versatile, Hurst’s sport and his road run should bring a different element to the Cincinnati attack – they could use him as the man of the match to exploit directed defenses to slow Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins while giving the Bengals a second Threat inside to pair up with Tyler Boyd. (While we were there, Kwamie Lassiter, son of the former Cardinals DB of the same name, appeared as a black horse to make the list as the uncut receiver.)
2) Other newcomers who will make a big difference will line up for Joe Burrow, and the Bengals are pretty excited about what they’ve gotten from perhaps their lowest profile, former Patriots center Ted Karras. He actually earned the building’s “Tenacious Ted” moniker, and was exactly the kind of consistent, consistent pivot man Cincinnati wanted to sign to help speed up the process of bringing together an upfront refurbished collection.
3) However, the biggest center battle on the roster remains in that area, and it will be for the left-handed goalkeeper between the selection of Jackson Carman in the second round in 2021 and Cordell Fulson fourth in 2022. Carman, to his credit, has taken a step forward in his approach, and he holds himself up as More professional in the second year. Coming from North Dakota, Foulson has impressed his colleagues with a legit skill set, wit and toughness.
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4) Another area with a lot of moving parts is the secondary area. With Jesse Bates away, for now, dark first Duxton Hill has taken over all the first-team reps since he was drafted into Bates’ place with a free safety, which is significant because he was almost exclusively a nickel-corner last year in Michigan. His athleticism, as well as his ability to pick up on the rules of the game, has been shown, and the staff plans to play with him a lot in pre-season. Once Bates returns, they’ll have to find a role for him, but that’s a good problem to deal with. Also, second round corner Cam Taylor-Britt is fighting for corner play, and fifth round safety Tycen Anderson has flashed as well.
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5) BJ Hill will be a very important figure to the Cincinnati defense. With Larry Ogunjobi gone, Hill now has to be the brigade holder mid-line having won a nice contract following last year’s end of summer deal with the Giants. The depth along the defensive line is, in general, worth watching, and the team is hoping guys like Joseph Ussai will come over the next few weeks.
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