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News » TONY GROSSI SCOUTS THE BENGALS


TONY GROSSI SCOUTS THE BENGALS


TONY GROSSI SCOUTS THE BENGALS
What: Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals , Sunday, 1 p.m. in Cleveland Browns Stadium.


Bengals' record: 2-11-1.

Last game: Defeated Washington Redskins, 20-13, Dec. 14, in Cincinnati.

Coach: Marvin Lewis, 44-50-1, sixth year.

Series record: Tied at 35-35.

Last meeting: Browns won, 20-12, Sept. 28, in Cincinnati.

League rankings: Offense is 32nd (29th rushing, 30th passing), defense is 22nd (23rd rushing, 19th passing) and turnover differential is minus-6.

Offensive overview

The answer to the trivia question: Which NFL offense is worse than that of the Browns? The Bengals' relevant statistics are worse likely only because they have been without starting quarterback Carson Palmer for 10 games. Ryan Fitzpatrick, who made his Bengals starting debut in the first meeting, is 2-7-1 as Palmer's replacement. Major breakdowns in a once-formidable offensive line has made running the ball nearly impossible. Defenses don't respect the run and Fitzpatrick's arm doesn't scare them off. Like the Browns, they've been a pass-first team and when unable to do that, they can't dial up a physical running game. Ex-Bears first-round pick Cedric Benson, trying to reclaim his career, has taken over the past six games as the starting tailback. He's had one 100-yard game. With receiver Chad Johnson playing most of the year with a separated shoulder, Fitzpatrick's only reliable target is T.J. Houshmandzadeh.

Defensive overview

This unit has made big strides under first-year coordinator Mike Zimmer despite losing six starters to injuries. All of the Bengals' competitive games were the result of stellar defensive performances. If they ever create a pass rush, look out. Zimmer's schemes have improved the run defense. The Bengals' last six opponents have been held to 3.7 yards per rush or less. The secondary suddenly has become a team strength - even after losing cornerback Johnathan Joseph to a season-ending injury. Cornerback Leon Hall is a budding all-star. The pair will be a formidable tandem for years to come. In the past six games, the Bengals have gotten a defensive spark out of waiver pickup Chris Crocker, the former Browns safety who suddenly is making plays.

Special teams overview

Kicker Shayne Graham is 18-of-20 in field goals with a long of 45 yards. Punter Kyle Larson is 31st in gross average (39.8 yards) and 30th in net (34.3). The coverage teams have been weakened by injuries to key players and is a constant concern. Houshmandzadeh has taken over punt return duties and Glenn Holt is the kick return specialist. They are average returners.

Players to watch

Receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh: Despite an off year from fellow receiver Johnson, he's third in the NFL with 92 catches and, more importantly, first with 31 catches on third down.

Cornerback Leon Hall: In his second season, the DB from Michigan has steadily improved and stands out on a defensive unit decimated by injuries. Non-existent pass rush accounts for his zero interceptions, but he leads the team with 21 passes defensed - seven more than the next-best total.

Receiver Chad Johnson: The NFL still does not recognize his legal name change to Chad Ocho Cinco because of apparel licensing agreements. By any name, he is still capable of putting on a show - if he gets into the end zone.

Injury report

OT Levi Jones (back) and S Chinedum Ndukwe (plantar fasciitis) have missed three games in a row. RB Chris Perry (groin) and RB Kenny Watson (hamstring) will be limited in practice.

Small world

Bengals safety Crocker was a Browns draft pick in 2003. . . . Browns left guard Eric Steinbach and defensive lineman Shaun Smith are former Bengals.



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: December 18, 2008

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Eric Steinbach Name: Eric Steinbach
#65
Position: OG
Age: 28
Experience: 6 years
College: Iowa
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