The Cincinnati Bengals are set to take on the Washington Football Team in one of Friday night's two preseason games. The Bengals will look to carry over the momentum from last week’s game after they came out victorious over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers by a score of 19-14. On the other side, Washington is looking to rebound from a 22-13 defeat to the New England Patriots.
This contest has plenty of intriguing plot points. Let’s get into three things we’re hoping to learn from this game.
CAN THE BENGALS PROTECT THEIR QB?
This has been one of the burning questions for the Bengals this offseason. The front office added fuel to the fire when they decided to draft wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase in the top five instead of one of the premium offensive linemen that were still on the board. With franchise quarterback Joe Burrow returning from a brutal knee injury that did damage to his ACL, MCL, PCL, and meniscus, it is of the utmost importance that the Bengals do a better job protecting the face of their franchise in 2021 than they did a year ago.
Burrow didn’t feature in the Bengals’ first exhibition game and he probably won’t play Friday night either, but head coach Zac Taylor was pleased with last week’s performance after his offensive line didn’t give up a single sack to the Buccaneers and their fierce defense (that albeit mostly consisted of backups). The Bengals are currently working things out on their O-line with multiple starting jobs still up for grabs, but Taylor, Burrow, and Co. will be hoping for more of the same against Washington.
CAN UDFA RB JARET PATTERSON CONTINUE TO IMPRESS?
One of the most heartwarming stories that emerged from Washington’s first exhibition game was the performance of undrafted running back Jaret Patterson, who accounted for a team-best 70 yards on 14 touches. Patterson was an absolute workhorse at The University of Buffalo, where he shattered multiple records and left the program as one of the school’s most beloved athletes. Despite the undrafted label, it was no surprise to see Paterson making an impact both as a runner and as a receiver in his first NFL game. It was eerily similar to what he did on a weekly basis at the collegiate level.
Patterson is a Maryland native that grew up a Washington fan. He’s now trying to make their final roster, an uphill battle for any player that didn’t hear their name called during the draft. Patterson’s impressive Week 1 performance could lead to an increased workload against the Bengals. We can’t wait to monitor his progress on Friday night.
WILL JA’MARR CHASE MAKE A SPLASH?
Switching focus back over to the Bengals, first-round pick Ja’Marr Chase had a quiet NFL debut last week when he caught a single pass for 16 yards in his first career game. In all fairness, Chase was on the field for a measly six snaps. With recent training camp reports stating that Chase is coming along slowly while struggling to separate from coverage in practice, we would love to see more of him on Friday night.
It’s not overly shocking to hear that a rookie receiver is having a tough time acclimating to the league this early on, especially one that didn’t play football a year ago. When Chase was on the field for LSU in 2019, he was a dynamic route-runner with an excellent feel for how to attack space and get open. We’d love to see some of that in Friday night’s contest against a tough Washington secondary.
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