AFC North: Morgan Trent

All this week, the AFC North blog will take a look back at the 2009 draft for each team in the division. For Monday, we'll review the draft for the Cincinnati Bengals:

First round: Andre Smith, OT

Second round: Rey Maualuga, LB

Third round: Michael Johnson, DE, and Chase Coffman, TE

Fourth round: Jonathan Luigs, C

Fifth round: Kevin Huber, P

Sixth round: Morgan Trent, CB, and Bernard Scott, RB

Seventh round: Fui Vakapuna, FB, Clinton McDonald, DT and Freddie Brown, WR

Thumbs up: Smith is making this class look better after being one of the most improved players in the league last season. He needs another strong season in 2012 to prove he's a quality starter. Some were disappointed by Maualuga's first season as an NFL middle linebacker, but I think he has a future there with his athleticism. The best value has been Scott, who has exceeded expectations and has become a very productive backup.

Thumbs down: Johnson has been a minor disappointment, although he ranked third on the team last season with 5.5 sacks. He'll remain a role player if Carlos Dunlap becomes an every-down lineman. Huber hasn't lived up to being a fifth-round prospect. His rankings as a punter have been: 19th in 2009, 25th in 2010 and 20th in 2011. The biggest bust was Coffman, who was waived after three catches in two seasons.

Hensley's grade: B-minus. The Bengals currently have two starters (Smith and Maualuga), two role players (Johnson and Scott) and an adequate punter out of this draft. Solid, not spectacular.

Bengals thin in the secondary

October, 31, 2010
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The Cincinnati Bengals' injury woes continue in the secondary.

Starters Johnathan Joseph (ankle) and Chinedum Ndukwe (knee) are both scratches Sunday against the Miami Dolphins. That leaves backups Morgan Trent and Reggie Nelson to start at cornerback and safety, respectively.

Adam Jones was having a solid season as the third cornerback until a neck injury last week put him on injured reserve. Safety Roy Williams also is out with a knee injury. Look for Miami (3-3) to try to exploit the Bengals' (2-4) thin secondary Sunday.

AFC North Week 2 decisive moment

September, 21, 2010
9/21/10
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NFC Decisive Moments: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South

In a defensive struggle in which yards and points were hard to come by, a relative unknown made a huge special-teams play late in the fourth quarter to set up the Cincinnati Bengals' go-ahead field goal in Sunday's 15-10 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

Trailing 10-9, Bengals second-year running back Bernard Scott returned a kickoff 60 yards to get the ball into Ravens' territory. A 6-yard run by teammate Cedric Benson and a controversial roughing-the-passer penalty two plays later set up Mike Nugent's 38-yard field goal to give Cincinnati a lead it never relinquished.

Most of the talk after the game focused on Terrell Suggs' costly penalty. But none of it would have been possible without the exciting kick return from Scott, a former sixth-round pick.

"I'm just trying to go out there and make plays when my number is called," Scott said after the game. "I feel like the more times I get the ball in my hands, the more times I can make plays."

As Benson's backup, Scott didn't receive many touches last week. He rushed for 17 yards on five carries against Baltimore. Scott's 60-yard dash was his only kick return of the game, but he stayed prepared despite limited opportunities.

The Bengals received a lot of key contributions from backups Sunday, such as linebacker Brandon Johnson, who filled in for injured starter Keith Rivers (foot), and cornerback Morgan Trent, who played well in the second half when Adam Jones hurt his shoulder.

"We're deep all around the board; we've got a lot of players," Scott said. "That's a good thing in case anybody goes down. The next man's got to be ready."

Recap of Bengals' preseason victory

August, 21, 2010
8/21/10
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The Cincinnati Bengals had a solid showing Friday with a 22-9 preseason victory against the Philadelphia Eagles. It was the third exhibition for Cincinnati.

Here are some observations:

The Good
  • New Bengals receiver Terrell Owens is fitting in well with the offense. Every exhibition game "T.O." shows you a little more of why the Bengals signed him to a one-year deal right before training camp. On Friday, Owens proved he can still go deep with a 43-yard reception down the sideline from quarterback Carson Palmer. Owens leads Cincinnati with nine preseason receptions for 108 yards.
  • After a series of miscues and poor execution on third down last week against the Denver Broncos, the Bengals made a dramatic improvement in that area against Philadelphia. Cincinnati held the Eagles to 1 of 7 (14 percent) on third-down conversions in the first half, which is when starters and contributors for both teams were still in the game. This was something Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis was very complimentary of Friday night.
  • Cincinnati backup cornerback Morgan Trent made a strong case for playing time with three interceptions in the second half.Trent played decent in stretches as the team's nickel cornerback last season, but the Bengals are looking for more consistency from the position. Cincinnati signed Adam Jones and drafted Brandon Ghee this offseason, but Trent's production puts him right in the mix.
The Bad
  • Despite Cincinnati playing its third preseason game, the starters continue to play sloppy at times. The Bengals had six first-half penalties, which needs to be improved before the start of the regular season. Palmer also threw two first-half interceptions against the Eagles.
  • The Bengals' first-team defense didn't get to the quarterback.Despite pressures, Cincinnati didn't get any sacks on Eagles quarterback Kevin Kolb, and had just one quarterback hit the entire first half. Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has made improving the pass rush a big emphasis this offseason. Cincinnati did record three sacks overall against Philadelphia, but they came from backups in the second half.
  • Cincinnati safety Gibril Wilson suffered a major knee injury and is likely out for the 2010 season. But fortunately for the Bengals, safety is a position where they have a lot of depth, which includes veterans Roy Williams, Chris Crocker and Chinedum Ndukwe.

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