PHOTO: A.J. Green jokes around with the other Bengals receivers prior to their preseason game against the Dallas Cowboys – The Enquirer – Jeff Swinger
ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Since returning to practice on Aug. 14, A.J. Green has looked like he barely missed a step after missing two weeks due to a bruised knee.
In his first preseason action on Saturday, Green got some game action in and finished with 3 receptions for 42 yards.
“I felt good out there. It was good to get back and get my wind back,” Green said. “I was a little tired out there at the beginning. Once the second half came, I got my second wind and I felt good out there again.”
Green got involved early. He caught the first pass on a little slant for a 9-yard completion on the second offensive play. His best play was a 26-yard reception off play action during the third quarter to move the Bengals into the red zone.
Later in the drive, Green appeared as if he got a touchdown after outmuscling Cowboys corner Micah Pellerin in the right corner of the end zone, but the official ruled that Green had one foot out of bounds. On replays it appeared as if Lewis could have challenged the call (see notes below). That later resulted in a Quinn Sharp 28-yard field goal to bring the Bengals within 14-10.
Said Green of the play: “I thought I did but it was toe-heel. It all can’t be in one motion. I need to work on just getting the toe down and just falling out of bounds.”
Dalton was happy to have Green back but also noted of his performance that it is what he expects. The first offense is likely only to get a series or two of work in Thursday’s preseason finale against Indianapolis.
TACKLES ANGST: Right tackle Andre Smith injured his left knee during the second quarter, which caused some nervous moments for those who were starting to envision what life might be like without both starting tackles for the Sept. 8 opener at Chicago.
Smith though appeared to be fine in the locker room after the game as he was walking normally and smiling (see notes below).
“He should be ready to go for Chicago,” coach Marvin Lewis said.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth did not make the trip to Dallas as he is still coming back from offseason knee surgery He has been limited throughout camp and there are some increasing concerns on if he will be ready for the opener. Whitworth comes into the season with the longest starting streak on the team at 67 games, including the postseason.
Anthony Collins got the start in place of Whitworth while Dennis Roland saw increased snaps at right tackle after Smith left.
BAD NIGHT FOR KIRKPATRICK: Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick led the Bengals in tackles with eight but that’s the only good thing you can say about his game.
Kirkpatrick had his problems going up against Dez Bryant during the first half and gave up the Cowboys first touchdown, which was a 5-yard completion to Bryant early in the second quarter. Kirkpatrick was also called for pass interference twice in the first half.
To say it was a learning experience for Kirkpatrick would be kind.
“That’s what he needed to have,” Lewis said. “They got to put in battle still – Brandon Thompson, Margus Hunt, Devon Still, that group of backup players needs to be pushed into the action like that. That was good.”
Kirkpatrick was unavailable for comment after the game as he was being treated for concussion symptoms.
WELCOME BACK: Defensive end Margus Hunt, who played at Southern Methodist, got his first NFL sack in the third quarter when he took down Alex Tanney for a 7-yard loss.
“The first half was difficult because of the way the tackle played. He was really physical and I wasn’t able to compete with that. It took me awhile to get into the groove,” said Hunt, who had 3 tackles, including the sack. “Eventually in the second half I was able to take what we have practiced all week and put it into the game. I was able to put pressure and punch away.”
Running back Rex Burkhead, who is from Plano, had 2 carries for 8 yards and 2 receptions for 14 yards.
SACK MASTER: Defensive end Dontay Moch got his second sack of the preseason and has 5.5 in the past seven preseason games. It might not be enough though to make the 53-man roster in what is a pretty deep defensive line group.
Moch though does have a chance to come back via the practice squad if he can clear waivers.
“You know, honestly, it’s not really up to me. It’s just how the coaches feel about my performance and where I can contribute as a player to this team. As of right now, I just feel like I’m making those steps to show that I can be a factor.”
INACTIVES: Defensive end Carlos Dunlap returned to practice this past week after missing the last two weeks due to a concussion. Dunlap though is still working his way back and was held out of Saturday’s game.
Preseason injuries have hampered Dunlap throughout his career. He missed two games in 2010 due to a concussion and knee strain. In 2011, a knee strain forced him out of the entire preseason and last year he only saw a couple series in the preseason opener before suffering a knee injury. Out of 16 preseason games, Dunlap has played in only four.
Wallace Gilberry got the start in place of Dunlap.
The other listed pregame inactives were QB Zac Robinson (PUP/elbow), WR Andrew Hawkins (ankle), CB Brandon Ghee (concussion), RB Bernard Scott (PUP/knee), FB Chris Pressley (PUP/knee), S George Iloka (wrist), LB Brandon Joiner (knee), LB Sean Porter (shoulder) and OG Otis Hudson (foot).
LB James Harrison, DE Robert Geathers and CB Adam Jones, who did not practice for much of the week, also got the night off.
RARE PRESEASON TRIP: The trip to Dallas marks the furthest trip out west for a preseason game for the Bengals since they faced Arizona in 1996.
Courtesy: Joe Reedy | Bengals beat-writer | Cincinnati Enquirer
The Boys Are Back editor comments: A.J. Greens foot was clearly out of bounds. It was not by a heel … more than half of his foot was on the white chalk. Green didn’t outmuscle Cowboys corner Micah Pellerin (who injured his hand on the play by nudging Green out of bounds). A Lewis challenge would have resulted in a Bengals lost timeout.
Bengals right tackle Andre Smith (along with their backup Dennis Roland) had his hands full with DeMarcus Ware, followed by emerging Cowboys DE Ben Bass.
When your leading tackler is a cornerback (Dre Kirkpatrick), that’s what you call “a bad day at the office”! That’s not a good thing. That honor (in a winning effort) usually goes to a linebacker. Dallas Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant owned Kirkpatrick during this game. Kirkpatrick has a ton of upside, but this was not his day.
Young Cincinnati DE Margus Hunt had a hard time with Dallas’ recently activated right tackle Jermey Parnell paired with (last years starting right tackle) Doug Free at right guard. His sack came against the Dallas Cowboys third-string unit lead by QB Alex Tanney.
To me, it’s amusing to refer to practice squad hopeful DE Dontay Moch as your sack master!
The Bengals lost to the (at the time, another NFC East team) Arizona Cardinals 13-10 on Saturday 08/10/1996. Something happens when they cross the mighty Mississippi River!
ARLINGTON, TEXAS — After solid victories in the first two preseason games, the Bengals looked like they were roaring along as they went into Saturday night’s contest against Dallas in what is commonly known as the dress rehearsal game.
Instead, the Bengals put on a display that brought their roar down to a meow. Maybe, the DJ at AT&T Stadium was on to something when they played the Meow Mix theme as the Bengals came on the field before the game.
The 24-18 loss to the Cowboys also reinforced an old equation – when you commit four turnovers and your defense can’t get off the field on third down, you aren’t going to win many games.
“Now, we can quit having all that smoke puffed up our butts and we can get to work,” coach Marvin Lewis said after the game. “There were some bright spots during the game. We did some things well but not enough, long enough.”
Two of the turnovers were committed by the first team offense. Marvin Jones fumbled deep in Dallas territory on the opening drive and Andy Dalton threw his first interception of the preseason on a deep ball intended for Mohamed Sanu.
Dalton and the first unit were in for 28 plays (16 pass, 12 run). He finished 12 of 16 for 113 yards and a subpar passer rating of 68.0. The running game generated only 44 yards with 30 of that coming on the third-quarter drive that led to a Quinn Sharp 28-yard field goal. The first team was 0 for 2 scoring touchdowns in the red zone and their lone points came courtesy of a Quinn Sharp 28-yard field goal on their last series of the night.
“The fact we hurt ourselves is the biggest thing,” Dalton said. “You can look at all the bad but there are still some good stuff mixed in there. We did move the ball well, but didn’t get the points to show for it.”
Defensively, the Bengals (2-1) forced only two three-and-outs in 10 possessions. The Cowboys (2-2) were 9 of 16 converting third downs and all three of their touchdown passes came on third down – two by Tony Romo and one by Kyle Orton.
Dallas ran 75 plays and ended up having the ball for 39 minutes, 31 seconds.
“I don’t know if it was a lack of focus for us. We had some good plays, but on third down we just couldn’t get them off the field,” linebacker Vontaze Burfict said.
Added Lewis: “We’ve got to get to work and get our guys wind going to get ready for the opener. I thought it was a positive for the defense as they had to stay out there for a couple of long drives. Hopefully those are good opportunities for our defensive players to blow their pipes out pretty good.”
Tony Romo was 13 of 18 for 137 yards and two touchdowns in a half of work while Dez Bryant (6 receptions, 54 yards) and Miles Austin (4 receptions, 59 yards) each had a touchdown.
On the opening drive, Dalton and the offense looked like they were going to pick up from where they left off in the Tennessee game. Dalton completed his first six passes for 56 yards and got A.J. Green quickly involved on the second play with a 9-yard completion on a slant pass. Green finished with 3 receptions for 42 yards.
The drive ended without points though when Brandon Carr forced Marvin Jones to fumble after a 14-yard completion to the Dallas 4. It was the Bengals’ third lost fumble of the preseason.
On the ensuing drive, Dallas moved the ball to their own 30 when the Bengals got their second punt return touchdown of the preseason, this one by Brandon Tate.
Tate’s 75-yard punt return came courtesy of something that you only get at AT&T Stadium. On Chris Jones’ first punt he hit the giant scoreboard that hangs above the field, which brought about a rekick.
“(Special Teams Coordinator) Darrin (Simmons) always tells us that nothing good happens for the punt team on a re-kick, and we made them pay,” Tate said. “I give all the credit to the other 10 guys out there with me. Everybody blocked it perfectly, and all I had to do was find the hole and shoot through it. Nobody really had a good shot at me.”
After that, Dallas started to get things in gear. The Cowboys went on a 12-play, 87-yard drive which culminated in Romo’s first touchdown pass of the preseason, a 5-yarder to Bryant, who dominated Dre Kirkpatrick on the drive. Romo was 6 of 6 on the drive and Bryant had 5 receptions for 53 yards.
Dallas would take the lead late in the first half when Austin got past Taylor Mays in coverage and caught it in the back of the end zone. In the second quarter Romo was 8 of 13 for 98 yards and two touchdowns and the Cowboys were 4 of 6 on third-down conversions.
After Sharp’s field goal, Orton came on for Dallas and led a 14-play, 86-yard drive that culminated in a 7-yard touchdown pass to DeMarco Murray where there were a litany of missed tackles.
Josh Johnson came on midway through the third quarter and led the Bengals to a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter, a 4-yard completion to Cobi Hamilton that was the final play of a 14-play, 60-yard drive. Ryan Whalen caught a two-point conversion from Johnson to bring the Bengals within a field goal. Hamilton atoned after he turned the ball over in the third quarter on a fumble after running a reverse for a 18-yard gain.
Dan Bailey added a 26-yard field goal to put the margin up to six with 52 seconds remaining. After a Dane Sanzenbacher return gave the Bengals good field position, they drove the ball to the Dallas 49 before Johnson was picked off by Xavier Brewer. Johnson was hit by Landon Cohen as he threw the ball.
Courtesy: Joe Reedy | Bengals beat writer | Cincinnati Enquirer
POSTGAME VIDEO LINKS FROM CINCINNATI:
It will be wheels up this afternoon for Team Enquirer as photographer Jeff Swinger and I head to Dallas for tomorrow night’s game against the Cowboys.
This will be my second trip to JerryWorld. Yes, it is an impressive stadium and you can catch yourself watching most of the game on the big screen instead of down on the field. When it comes to sheer size and scope, it is tops in the NFL but if you are grading it on fan experience and watching a game, to me it would be fourth. I think Seattle, Kansas City and Baltimore are better.
Weather wise, this should be a better trip compared to two years ago when I went to Dallas for the Super Bowl. During the early part of Super Bowl week, the Dallas-Fort Worth area was hit with snow and ice storms, which made the highways treacherous. That wasn’t good since it was billed as a North Texas Super Bowl and everything was far flung.
ONE NOTE ABOUT SATURDAY
Due to our deadlines, the game will not be completed in time for Sunday’s paper. A game story and notebook will be available on Cincinnati.Com following the game and there will be more coverage in Monday’s paper.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH ON SATURDAY
How much will A.J. Green play? Probably not as much as the rest of the first unit. As Lewis noted on Thursday, he has a number of snaps in mind for each position group depending on the depth and a player’s experience. Plus, Green doesn’t need much work in game conditions. Just kick the tires, get out there for a couple series, catch a pass or two and call it a day.
Can the first-team defense get a sack? There hasn’t been much pressure on the quarterback during the first two games. Geno Atkins has applied some pressure but they have yet to get a sack. The line though has not been at full strength in the preseason, particularly at defensive end. Carlos Dunlap has missed both games and Michael Johnson was out against Tennessee. Both should play against the Cowboys but Robert Geathers has not practiced this week.
Does Shawn Williams emerge at safety? With George Iloka doubtful for tonight’s game, Shawn Williams and Taylor Mays will get another prime opportunity to show what they can do. Williams led the Bengals with 10 tackles last week and continues to show progress. Mays has had flashes of good play but also some painful lapses in coverage. Iloka still has the advantage for the starting spot at strong safety, but the gap is starting to close.
Offensive Bubble Player to keep an eye on: Running back Rex Burkhead grew up in nearby Plano and is used to playing in AT&T Stadium. Burkhead is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and has two runs of 15 yards or more during the preseason. He remains in a battle with Dan Herron for the final running back spot but might the edge based on if Burkhead were to be waived, the odds are pretty good that he would get claimed by another team.
Defensive Bubble Player to keep an eye on: Cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris has had a good training camp, but the highest exposure he has received came during the fourth quarter of last week’s game when he bit on a double move by Michael Preston that resulted in a 46-yard touchdown. If the Bengals keep 10 defensive backs, it will likely come down to which DB plays best over the final two games – Lewis-Harris or Mays.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Dallas Cowboys
Kickoff: 8 p.m., AT&T Cowboys Stadium – Arlington, TX
Local TV: WKRC-TV (Channel 12)
Local Radio: WCKY-AM (1530), WEBN-FM (102.7).
Series: Second preseason meeting. Dallas won the 2010 Hall of Fame Game 16-7.
Note: Bengals are 22-20 in preseason games under Marvin Lewis.
Not expected to play: OT Andrew Whitworth (knee), DE Robert Geathers (unspecified), CB Brandon Ghee (concussion), LB Sean Porter (shoulder), WR Andrew Hawkins (ankle), FB Chris Pressley (PUP/knee), QB Zac Robinson (PUP/elbow), HB Bernard Scott (PUP/knee).
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Taylor Mays has had plenty of camera time on Hard Knocks as he faces another reality — life on the roster bubble.
There is something of interest related to Adam Jones’ case. The attorney representing the alleged victim in the case was indicted by a federal grand jury on Thursday.
Coming Sunday, Paul Daugherty tells the story of Reggie Williams who, after 24 knee surgeries and years of pain, won’t accept losing his leg.
Courtesy: Joe Reedy | Cincinnati Enquirer
(Photographs courtesy: Cincinnati Enquirer)
About Joe Reedy
Joe Reedy took over as The Enquirer’s Bengals beat writer in 2009 after covering the University of Kentucky and doing an NFL picks column. Reedy’s previous NFL experience includes covering the Jets for The Post-Star in Glens Falls, NY (1997-98) and Jaguars for The Gainesville Sun (1999). The Youngstown native lives in Burlington and is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Board of Selectors.