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Jets-Bengals: 7 Things to Look For

Posted Aug 15, 2014

Rex Ryan: "It'll Be a Great Test for Us" to Play the Bengals, 49-9 Winners Last Year

Updated, Friday, 1:35 p.m. ET

It's only the second preseason game, but the Jets will be pumped to play the Bengals in Cincinnati on Saturday night.

Head coach Rex Ryan has a friendly but competitive rivalry with Cinci coach Marvin Lewis, his former staffmate on the Ravens from 1998-2001. And the Jets and Bengals know this could be their first meeting of two on the year, if both teams realize their summer aspirations to become AFC playoff teams.

Then there's that 49-9 enchilada that the Stripes hung up on the Jets last October.

"We did get smoked by them," Ryan said, "I know it's a preseason game, but I'm looking forward to it and I'm glad we're facing a good team."

Here are seven things to know about this Jets-Bengals meeting.

1. The Unfriendly Confines

Traditionally we've done well against the Bengals with a 15-8 regular-season record, 2-0 in the postseason and 5-4 in the preseason. But Paul Brown Stadium has not been kind to us. Yes, there was the AFC Divisional Round win there in 2009, but that was sandwiched in between the 38-31 loss to the Bengals in '07, the 17-6 defeat in the 2012 preseason opener, and last year's regular-season 49-9 "dogwalk," in the felicitous phrasing of Sheldon Richardson.

In the last two games at PBS, then, the Jets scored no touchdowns. Couple that with LB Calvin Pace's advice that we need to start faster on the road. No wonder Rex is saying about a mere summer game, "I think it'll be a great test for us."

2. The Quarterback Rotation

Regarding his quarterbacks, Ryan still hadn't declared his rotation as of Wednesday, although he did say rookie Tajh Boyd will play late against the Bengals and Matt Simms, who got the entire second half vs. the Colts, may or may not play.

But whenever Geno Smith enters the game, first quarter or third quarter behind Michael Vick, he knows he needs to look forward, not back. Yet he also knows the Cinci game last year was one of his worst starts — one of four games without a touchdown drive or 200 drive yards, two interceptions, three sacks.

"I'm not thinking about last year, but every game counts," Geno said. "Obviously you want to have a better showing. That's just natural."

3. Hitting the Ground Running

We won't see a lot of it, but the Jets' RB by committee should have all three committeemen present and accounted for in the first half. Chris Johnson, still on that pitch count at practice, has been healthy. Chris Ivory (ribs) has been running at practice and Ryan expects him to play. And Bilal Powell (hamstring) has gotten back to practice after missing the Colts game and the Green & White practice.

4. Pryor Engagement

Calvin Pryor has been out of action for a while as he worked his way through the NFL's concussion protocol. But he's been cleared, he's been practicing, he's thudded a few teammates hard, and he's been antsy about finally making his Jets debut Saturday night.

"We'll rotate him this week," said Ryan. "You're going to see him with the ones, with the twos and with the threes. He's going to get some reps.

Adding to Pryor's eagerness to get it on with the Bengals, he played his college ball at Louisville, just a 100-mile drive down Interstate 71 from Cincinnati, and he expects a number of friends and family to be in attendance.

5. Double-A at CB?

Because of those corner injuries to Dee Milliner, Dimitri Patterson and Dex McDougle, Antonio Allen worked this week with the first team at cornerback. Will he start there vs. the Bengals? DC Dennis Thurman said Tuesday, "We're not even sure if we'll put him out there," and Rex added, "You know what? I think he probably will. What the heck, let's put him out there."

By those responses, it remains to be seen if Double-A is one of our starting corners. But whether it's Allen, Kyle Wilson, Darrin Walls, Ellis Lankster or Ras-I Dowling, we'll have our hands full in the first half with the Andy Dalton-to-A.J. Green connection, which has already produced a 53-yard completion in Game 1. At least Marvin Jones (four TD receptions in last year's game) is out with a broken foot.

6. Happy Returns Ahead?

Rookie PR Jalen Saunders was contained Thursday by the Colts to three fair catches and two returns for 11 yards, and Jacoby Ford and Saalim Hakim were held in check on kickoff returns. But all remain confident they'll bust some returns soon. Could it be Saturday night? Kansas City rookies broke an 80-yard punt return and a 65-yard kickoff return, both in the first quarter in KC's 41-39 win over Cincinnati.

Update: Saunders was involved in a one-car accident this morning, Friday, on the way to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. He was taken to a local hospital for precautionary monitoring and will not play in Saturday night's game.

7. Finish Against a Wild Man

Jets fans may get a blast from the past when the fourth quarter comes around and Cincinnati RB James Wilder enters the game. Actually, it's rookie James Wilder Jr., son of the back who rushed for 6,008 yards and gained 9,508 yards from scrimmage in his 10-year NFL career, mostly with the Bucs. If Junior runs as hard and catches as well as dear old dad, our third defense will want to tighten their chinstraps.




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