All us football fans know, the third preseason game means we get to see the first teams play their most extended playing time of the whole preseason. This means that Sunday night against the Arizona Cardinals, we could be seeing one of the most efficient offenses the Bengals have had since 2005 when Carson Palmer, Chad Johnson, and TJ Houshmandzadeh led a high powered offense to a AFC North division title. Andy Dalton, AJ Green and co. have looked pretty darn good in the first two exhibition games and they will have a good test Sunday night when they go against Patrick Peterson, one of the best cornerbacks in the league.
Unfortunately, starting linebacker Vontaze Burfict probably will not be able to play in his homecoming against Arizona, as he did not practice on Friday for the third straight day because of a “stomach bug.” Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick has sat out of practice with the same bug and it’s not 100% certain that we’ll see him out on the field against the Cardinals. Rookie cornerback Darqueze Dennard has not practiced all week due to his hip injury suffered in last week’s game against the Jets, and I would be surprised if he went on Sunday. Dennard needs to get as healthy as possible for the regular season because he really adds some depth for the Bengals at the cornerback position.
Back up quarterback Jason Campbell seems to be back and ready to play after bruising his elbow in the preseason opener against Kansas City. Campbell didn’t look so hot in that game against the Chiefs so hopefully tonight he can show he’s worthy of being Dalton’s back up, although there isn’t much competition for the job. The offensive line is finally starting to get all its starters back so it’ll be good to see if they can gel together tonight to give Dalton enough time to make good decisions and make holes for rookie running back Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard to run through.
The defensive line has shown that it is still as strong as ever despite losing Michael Johnson and Geno Atkins is going to get his first go round since tearing his ACL last October on Halloween. This unit has all the tools it needs to repeat as one of the top lines in the league and now with Atkins returning it’s time for them to gel as starters.
I think we’ll be able to see what this team is really made of when they go against the Cardinals. The starters will be able to play long enough to work out any kinks and really kick it into gear for the regular season that is quickly approaching.