The Cincinnati Bengals’ first test comes in just three days when they open the season with an intriguing Week 1 battle against the Los Angeles Chargers at home. The Bengals look quite different heading into the 2020 season on both sides of the ball. They have had players, both old and new, make a name for themselves throughout an unprecedented offseason.
But we won’t know if the Bengals have all the pieces in place and a plan of action that works until they prove they can make a turnaround from last season’s 2-14 mess in a real NFL game.
Their first test comes in just three days when they open the season against the Los Angeles Chargers at home. Here’s a look at three players to turn your attention to for the Bengals in the first week of action.
Who are the three players to watch in the Bengals Week 1 game against the Chargers?
QB Joe Burrow has his first chance to demonstrate his talents in the NFL
We’ve heard a lot about how impressive Burrow has been throughout camp, and his accomplishments at LSU speak for themselves. No player leads his team through an undefeated season capped off by a national championship victory over a historically dominant team, posts huge numbers, shatters almost too many records to count, wins the Heisman Trophy, changes the stereotype of the position for a program, and becomes the No. 1 overall draft pick unless they have something a little bit special about them.
There’s undoubtedly some skepticism here given how strong of a system and supporting cast Burrow had at LSU. Still, his practically unparalleled mental makeup sets him apart and should allow him to function at a higher level than most rookie signal-callers out of the gate.
He has the chance to show he can put it all together at the next level against an NFL defense Sunday.
OT Jonah Williams makes his long-awaited debut
In terms of the offense, all eyes will be on Burrow’s debut, but an offense can’t achieve a high level of production, and a quarterback can’t put on his best performance unless the offensive line delivers.
Williams is a player to watch within this unit.
He spent the entirety of his rookie season on Injured Reserve after the Bengals selected him with the No. 11 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. Williams is fully recovered and back in playing shape now. In his first NFL matchup, he will face quite the test against a defense that includes Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
The Bengals’ defense is nothing to scoff at with players like Carlos Dunlap in the fold, and he has been strong against them in practice. That should assure fans that Williams has the talent to rise to the challenge. Now he just needs to perform when the lights are brightest.
DL D.J. Reader has a chance to continue to grow after a strong 2019
The Bengals had some issues stopping the run last season, ranking dead-last as they allowed an average of 148.9 rushing yards per game. The team had problems in all aspects, whether it be players learning a new scheme, an overall lack of talent, or tackling issues.
Reader is the player many are looking to for the remedy. He was one of the team’s most significant acquisitions in free agency this year, and he’s become one of the NFL’s highest-paid defensive lineman as he prepares to go into a leadership role alongside Geno Atkins. Expect Reader to make things easier on the Bengals linebackers against Los Angeles. Given the uncertainty of those linebackers, the Bengals need Reader to be at his best
The Bengals and Chargers are set to kick off at 3:05 p.m. CST Sunday on Cincinnati’s home turf. It will undoubtedly be an exciting atmosphere, even with no in-person attendance permitted at the game.