The Cincinnati Bengals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers cap Week 2 of the NFL’s preseason with a Monday night showdown at Raymond James Stadium.
Highlighted by some stellar offensive efficiency, the Bengals are coming off an impressive 23-10 victory over the New York Giants, while Tampa Bay looks for more consistency from rookie quarterback Jameis Winston after last week’s 26-16 loss to Minnesota.
Cincinnati held out several players during Friday’s practice session prior to meeting Tampa Bay, with some key injuries on the offensive and defensive lines and secondary that could open chances for others hoping to make the final roster.
Cornerback Darqueze Dennard was out with a nagging groin injury on Friday, and appears unlikely to play, allowing more reps for rookie Troy Hill as well as Chris Lewis-Harris. Corner Brandon Ghee also sat out with a hamstring injury.
On the lines, offensive tackle Andre Smith is dealing with a mystery injury after practicing twice last week but sitting down Friday, and second-year guard Trey Hopkins remains on the sidelines with a leg injury that’s endangering his chances of making the roster.
Second-string defensive tackle Pat Sims missed the last two practices with a thigh injury, and seems likely to sit against Tampa Bay, which gives Devon Still, DeShawn Williams, and Kwame Geathers the chance to make a strong impression.
Meanwhile the Buccaneers, who already have two rookies as part of their offensive line rotation, will have tackle Demar Dotson sidelined by a sprained MCL suffered against Minnesota. Tampa Bay signed former Indianapolis starting tackle Gosder Cherilus and he’s likely to start beside rookie Donovan Smith at the two tackle spots until Dotson can return from a projected six-week rehab.
Tampa Bay is dealing with a rash of injuries to its pass rush. Defensive ends Jacquies Smith (shoulder) and T.J. Fatinikun (leg strain) and even defensive tackle Da’Quan Bowers (undisclosed) are all hampered. Rookies Jamal Young and Ryan Delaire should get more time, as well as seven-year veteran and former San Diego Charger Larry English.
Players to Watch
The injuries on the offensive line won’t help Winston improve on his 9-for-19, 131-yard, one-pick performance in his debut, especially the two sacks he took, but overcoming injuries will serve as good lesson. His first showing in front of the friendly Tampa Bay crowd should provide a boost for Winston. He certainly has the targets in Mike Evans, Vincent Jackson and emerging tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a group that collected only eight targets in the opener.
And though the Bucs defensive line looks rather thin, veterans Henry Melton and William Gholston should act as solid reinforcements.
For Cincinnati, following Dalton’s perfect 3-for-3 showing for 31 yards and a touchdown, it will get its first look at back-up A.J. McCarron who sat out his rookie year with a shoulder injury and was sidelined against New York with an unspecified upper-body injury. A fourth-round pick last year, McCarron’s currently contending with Josh Johnson and Keith Wenning for the primary backup role.
Smith’s injury, and second-round pick Jake Fisher also down, means another long night for lineman like Dan France, T.J. Johnson, and Tanner Hawkinson, all of whom played heavy minutes against the Giants and are in line for a final 53-man spot.
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Live Online: Watch ESPN