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Sunday, August 21, 2011
Three things: Bengals-Jets

By James Walker

Three things to watch for in Cincinnati's preseason game against the New York Jets on Sunday night. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET.

Will the effort be there? This sounds like a silly question for a preseason game. But neither the Bengals' starters nor the backups showed up ready to play in last week's 34-3 drubbing to the Detroit Lions. Cincinnati looked shell-shocked and sloppy. The Bengals turned over the football, didn't play hard and were battered in every phase of the game by Detroit. Cincinnati is a rebuilding team. It needs to play better now to start building confidence.

What strides will rookie quarterback Andy Dalton make? The Dalton era in Cincinnati got off to a rough start. His first throw was intercepted and he finished with 69 yards and an interception. Dalton needs to show growth in his second career start. The Bengals are relying on the second-round pick to be the starting quarterback in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns.

What to make of the defense? Two seasons ago, Cincinnati was No. 4 in total defense. Last season, the Bengals were No. 15. This unit wants to get back to its 2009 form but looked more like the 2010 version last week. The Jets' star-studded offense should be another good test for the Bengals' defense.