By Conrad Clowers
Herald Sports Writer
Football is the one sport where you are almost guaranteed to be playing at some point in the season. Football is a tuff physical game where injuries are more common than in any other sport. The quarterback position is the one in the spotlight for the Bengals right now. Joe Burrow has a calf injury he sustained in training camp. Speculation has been running rampant that Burrow may or may not be ready for the beginning of the regular season when the season kicks off.
If Burrow is not ready at the start of the season, which will be September 10, quarterbacking duties will be in the hands of Jake Browning or Trevor Siemian.
Browning is a second-year quarterback who has spent much time on the Bengals practice squad.
Siemian has considerably more experience than Browning. The veteran quarterback has played and started multiple games for the Denver Broncos in the past. Either way the chances of winning and the production at QB drop off substantial with Burrow not behind the center. Possessing one of the top two or three quarterbacks in the league as Cincinnati does forces a new game plan.
Quarterback is not the only position to be tested. Through most of the NFL season, any and every position had better be ready to have second and third team players ready to play. Some of the most common positions to have depth tested are defensive back, offensive and defensive lineman, and running back.
This past offseason the Bengals drafted Myles Murphy out of Clemson in the first round. Last season top pass rusher Trey Hendrickson spent part of the season injured as his production fell. Cincinnati’s own Sam Hubbard’s production fell off as well. As a result, the Bengal’s sacks and pressure were not among the best in the league. The team knew this and addressed the situation in the draft.
Several defensive backs had to step up last season because of injury as well. Starting cornerback Chidobe Awuzie suffered a season-ending knee injury last season. Then rookies such as Cam Taylor-Britt and Dax Hill had to be baptized by fire and play sooner then they were possibly ready. Even on the offensive side of the ball, Cincinnati went in with a new offensive line from the subpar team that started in the Super Bowl. By season end, multiple starting lineman had gotten hurt such as La’el Collins and Alex Cappa. This left an opportunity for Cincinnati’s own Jackson Carmen to step in.
Many felt Carmen would not be retained as he had not played up to the billing of a second round draft choice. He was yet to crack the starting lineup in his second season. Carmen seized the opportunity and showed in the playoffs last season he is worthy of playing when his number is called. His stellar play in the 2022 playoffs may have saved his roster spot in 2023.
Cincinnati will have two more games to get backup players some reps. The team will take on the Atlanta Falcons and end the preseason with the Washington Commanders.
The Monday before the season starts, all teams are required to cut down to 53 active players.