W2W4: Cincinnati Bengals

August, 24, 2014
Aug 24
12:00
PM ET
The Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) and Arizona Cardinals (1-1) play their third game of the preseason at 8 p.m. ET Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium.

1. Dalton's longest outing: Bengals coach Marvin Lewis wouldn't tip his hand this week when asked how long he might leave his starters in this game. He wants to base their playing time on the number of plays they have, not on the quarters they play. It's possible his first-team offense plays into the start of the third quarter, but it's most likely the group calls it quits at halftime if it has reached a certain number of plays. The starters were part of eight plays at Kansas City in the preseason opener and 17 last week against the Jets. Regardless of what the number of plays will be this weekend, the bottom line is this: Look for Andy Dalton to have his longest outing of the preseason. Will he be able to keep up the strong play he has exhibited so far? Through four drives, he is 11-for-13 for 215 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals have scored on all four of his drives.

2. Watch Atkins make his debut: Early in the week, defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said the plan was to get defensive tackle Geno Atkins "a couple series" in Sunday's game. Lewis added Friday that Atkins was good enough to play, even if he didn't participate in Friday's walk-through. When Atkins does take the field Sunday, he will be participating in his first game since October, when he tore his ACL on Halloween night. The injury required surgery and forced him to take his recovery quite slowly. He didn't see any 11-on-11 action during the open portion of training camp that ended last week, but Guenther said Atkins has been part of some team drills this week. We will be watching in pregame to see if Atkins gives any indication that he won't be ready. Sidelined Friday, Atkins joined linebacker Vontaze Burfict, among others. Burfict's status will be interesting to watch. He didn't practice Wednesday to Friday because of a stomach bug that has hit the team.

3. Bengals generating better depth? Lewis and Guenther were among those most adamant about generating better depth on both sides of the ball after last week's loss to the Jets. Cincinnati's hot 17-3 start was ruined by turnovers and lacking execution from players near the bottom of the depth chart. Despite their commanding lead that lasted into the second quarter, the Bengals ended up losing 25-17. The hope around Paul Brown Stadium this week has been that reserves trying to make the team kicked it into high gear just in time for Sunday's game. Watch to see if the execution is better or worse on the back end of the depth chart Sunday.

Coley Harvey

ESPN Cincinnati Bengals reporter

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