Special to Sports Talk Florida
The wait is over. Your defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers take the field this week. In the first game since winning the Super Bowl, the Buccaneers will play the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday evening.
The Bengals are a team on the opposite end of the spectrum from the Bucs. A young and rebuilding squad who is looking to take that next step forward. This is to say that they are still figuring things out and have something to prove. Here are some things to know about the Bengals and how it impacts the Bucs this week:
The Bengals have decided to build around their passing game. After drafting quarterback Joe Burrow first overall last year they invested in a wide receiver with their 2020 2nd round pick as well as the fifth overall pick in the most recent draft. This is without question the strongest and deepest aspect of the Bengals.
This will be a great opportunity to test the depth of the Bucs secondary. It will certainly be a positive sign if Tampa Bay can shut down these talented receivers. However, it’s more important that front runners begin to emerge in the competition for fifth corner and fourth safety.
The Bengals seem to be revamping their offensive line every year with no success. This year would be no exception and is another year filled with questions upfront. Despite three former first-round picks and a 2021 second-round pick on their roster this seems like a match up the Bucs should take advantage of.
Yes, Joe Tryon will likely look very good. If nothing else this will be a great opportunity to get his feet under him after sitting out last season. Beyond that it’s an opportunity for fringe roster guys to make a splash. Khalil Davis, Patrick O’Connor, Jeremiah Ledbetter and several lesser known long shots will have a chance to improve their stock in this game.
The Bengals are strong on the defensive line. Very big and very strong. D.J. Reader leads the way for a respectable group that includes Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard. Even their rookies like Joseph Ossai and Tyler Shelvin look very promising.
This group will certainly test the depth of the Bucs offensive line. Robert Hainsey, the Buccaneers third-round pick, has missed most of the last two weeks with injury and won’t play against the Bengals. Donnell Stanley is still questionable, as well. This gives guys like John Molchon and others to show whether or not they deserve a roster spot with this team.
The back seven of the Bengals defense is largely either unproven players trying to establish themselves or journeymen guys who have never really lived up to expectations. The depth beyond that only gets worse.
But so far, the secondary has been the talk of Bengals camp when it comes to positive developments. Led by Jessie Bates III and Chidobe Awuzie, they’ve routinely shut down the Bengals talented trio of wideouts.
It seems clear that the Bucs top four receivers are well established. However, from there it gets to be a competition. Rookie Jaelon Darden has impressed through several practices to start the year. Tyler Johnson made key plays on the biggest stages in the playoffs last year. Jaydon Mickens has proven to be a valuable special teams asset and has had a strong camp. Seeing any of these three impress would go along way in determining the pecking order on the depth chart.
What are you paying attention to when the Buccaneers take on the Bengals Saturday? Let us know via the comment section below!