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What To Watch For: Pre Season Week 4

The Bengals have made great strides on all sides of the ball since they kicked off their preseason in Canton. However, much like in 2009, the Bengals are struggling in some key areas. The players to watch are bolded.

* The issues along the offensive line are a major cause for concern, and Cincinnati hopes the patchwork group can rally around themselves and succeed when the season starts. Much like in 2009 the offensive line will need to play above their capabilities and play way above expectations. The group has little depth and struggles mightily in pass protection. The O-line is very talented in the run blocking department but in order for the offense to succeed they need to be able to give Carson Palmer enough time to find his new talented weapons. The key to the success for the whole offensive line (like it or not) just might be through the giant, Andre Smith. The 6th overall pick in last years draft has struggled finding the field in 2010 but has recently began practicing and he even received some reps in last weeks game vs. the Eagles. He struggled in pass protection and looked very rusty, but he showed flashes of the overpowering skill he posses that made him a top 10 draft pick. If the Bengals can get him in shape and ready for the 2010 opener he could play a major role in protecting Palmer and anchoring the line for a group that desperately needs a star.

* Carson Palmer has showed signs of brilliance so far this preseason, but some interceptions and missed throws are starting to raise questions about the once top 3 QB. Palmer has been under a heavy pass rush all preseason and has been getting pressured nearly every time he drops back to throw. If this offense wants to rebound from a down season in 2009, they will need Carson to have time to throw. So far he has not been able to throw with accuracy as he has avoided pressure in the pocket, but he will see a lot of the same poor protection all season so he needs to be able to find a way to make it work. He has more talent around him now than at any point in his career so he needs to make it work so he can return to the upper echelon of NFL QB’s.

* The WR’s Dez Briscoe, Matt Jones, Quan Cosby, and Jerome Simpson all have struggled throughout the preseason and the battle for the last WR spot is as wide open as ever. Watch this group closely, a good game by one of these receivers could result in them ultimately winning the final receiver spot on the 53 man roster.

* Marvin White has returned to the Bengals in the spot of the Gibril Wilson who will miss the entire 2010 campaign with a torn ACL. It will be interesting to see if he can steal a spot as a backup before the season begins in just a few weeks.

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