NFL Preseason Preview - Cincinnati (1-0) at Atlanta (0-1)
By Scott Garbarini, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - The Atlanta Falcons put forth a very strong start to their
2012 preseason, but will be hoping for a better finish in their matchup with
the Cincinnati Bengals from the Georgia Dome.
Atlanta's offense was rolling early on in last Thursday's opener against the
Baltimore Ravens, with quarterback Matt Ryan engineering touchdown drives of
80 and 85 yards that gave the Falcons a 14-point lead less than a minute into
the second quarter. The second half was a different result, however, as the
Ravens forced three Atlanta turnovers and scored 24 unanswered points to come
away with a 31-17 victory.
Ryan finished 9-of-13 for 155 yards with one touchdown and one interception
while leading the Falcons' first four possessions, with most of his damage
coming on connections with Julio Jones. The standout second-year receiver
burned Baltimore for 109 yards on six catches during his short stint,
including a 36-yard scoring grab from Ryan on Atlanta's first series.
Roddy White added three receptions totaling 46 yards to help the Falcons'
first-team offense pile up 193 yards in just over a quarter's worth of work,
but the unit sputtered afterward with the backups in place and Atlanta wound
up saddled with its sixth straight preseason loss dating back to the 2010
The Falcons also didn't fare well on the injury front in Thursday's defeat.
Rookie Bradie Ewing, slated to be the team's top fullback, suffered a season-
ending torn ACL in the first half, while starting middle linebacker Akeem Dent
sustained a concussion in the second quarter that will keep him out of this
To take Ewing's spot on the roster, Atlanta signed veteran fullback Lousaka
Polite on Saturday.
Running back Jason Snelling (lower leg), defensive tackles Corey Peters (foot)
and Vance Walker (foot) and cornerback Chris Owens (hamstring) all sat out the
opener for Atlanta and aren't expected back against the Bengals, though slot
receiver Harry Douglas could return after missing the Baltimore game with sore
Cincinnati didn't come out of Friday's 17-6 triumph over Tim Tebow and the New
York Jets unscathed either. Left guard Travelle Wharton (knee), running back
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (foot), middle linebacker Rey Maualuga (knee), defensive
end Carlos Dunlap (knee) strong safety Taylor Mays (concussion) all exited
early with injuries, with Wharton feared to have an ACL tear that would
sideline him for all of the 2012 season.
Dunlap is projected to miss about a month with a right knee sprain, which
further thins the depth on a defensive line that will also be without
experienced end Robert Geathers for the entire preseason with a knee injury.
Rookie cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick, the Bengals' first pick in this past
April's draft, is also presently on the shelf due to a reported fractured bone
in his knee.
Cincinnati's defense was still effective despite the depletions, limiting the
Jets to a mere 173 total yards and 11 first downs while recording five sacks,
with reserve linebacker Dontay Moch coming up with 1 1/2 sacks and forcing a
fumble on the evening.
The Bengals will also be short-handed at the running back position, with both
Green-Ellis and backup Bernard Scott (broken hand) ruled out for Thursday's
game. Versatile veteran Brian Leonard and usual special-teamer Cedric Peerman
will handle the majority of the ball-carrying duties.
Peerman accounted for both Cincinnati touchdowns in last week's win,
recovering a blocked punt in the end zone late in the first half and adding a
one-yard rushing score in the third quarter.
Atlanta has prevailed in eight of 10 all-time preseason meetings with
Cincinnati and has won the last seven such bouts between the teams, most
recently a 24-19 decision at the Georgia Dome in 2007. The Bengals haven't
bested the Falcons in exhibition play since a 13-7 road overtime verdict on
Aug. 17, 1974.
08/14 17:18:46 ET