As you can tell by scrolling through the Bengals blog, Monday was a rather busy day at One Paul Brown Stadium. As off days go, Tuesday figures to be pretty busy, too.
When one of the league's best cornerbacks goes down with a season-ending injury, the workload increases for those behind the Cincinnati Bengals' scene. Just days after the organization was able to boast being at its healthiest point of the year, Leon Hall's Achilles tear Sunday sent the team's power players scrambling trying to figure out how they would replace his spot on the roster. There are several solutions, all of which assuredly have been weighed.
Among them: Stick with what you've got, move a player up from the practice squad and remain committed to the men already in your locker room. That was the message coach Marvin Lewis appeared to convey during his news conference Monday. It was one echoed by cornerback Adam Jones and defensive backs coach Mark Carrier, who both felt comfortable with who the Bengals had in place as they moved forward with life without Hall.
Still, regardless of what anyone affiliated with the team may say, the rumors persist and the speculation continues. Some are curious to see if the Bengals make a move that includes bringing in either experienced free agents who have been home for much of the season, or recently waived defenders from other teams. The Bengals contend their defense is too tough for a fresh-off-the-street player to learn.
For that reason, the Bengals beat crew spent much of Monday evaluating the depth the team has at cornerback.
We take a look at those assessments in Tuesday's Morning Stripes:
We start with the Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy, who looks at the Bengals' depth through the lens of the veteran Jones and second-year player Dre Kirkpatrick, in particular. Jones is among those who believe that now is the time for Cincinnati's youngest secondary standouts, like Kirkpatrick, to step up and become even greater contributors than they have already been. By most accounts, since his horrific preseason game at Dallas, two months ago, Kirkpatrick has done just that.
Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com quoted Jones as saying he credited the people in Cincinnati's front office for perfectly putting the franchise in the type of position where it can handle a situation, regrettable as it may be to the Bengals, like this. It's because of their personnel decisions that there is depth and an ability to shuffle around what they already have, he said. Jones also argues that he believes the depth of this year's group of cornerbacks is much better than what it was in 2011, when Hall went out after tearing his other Achilles. The Bengals struggled without him then, veterans say.
Going back over to the Enquirer, Paul Dehner Jr. has this look at what it was specifically that the Bengals' offensive line was able to do to control Detroit's dominating defensive line and keep quarterback Andy Dalton upright. For the Bengals' line, Sunday's game was football in its most raw, unadulterated element. There weren't many line checks and changing schemes that had to be made. It was simply about taking on the man in front of you and blocking. Aside from one sack and three more pressures that involved post-throw hits, Dalton was untouched.
Speaking of Dalton, we close with this from Bleacher Report. Former Bengals quarterback and Bleacher Report "Behind the Mic" contributor Boomer Esiason said in this video earlier this week that he believes Andy Dalton has what it takes to lead the Bengals to the Super Bowl. He believes Dalton is improving and finally beginning to show consistently good play. Combine that with the play of the Bengals' suffocating defense, and you've got the perfect storm for a team set to go on a long run, Esiason says. As someone who has won in this at times beleaguered franchise, few would know better than Esiason just what it takes for a young quarterback to finally mature to the point that he looks like a real leader. There will be many of you who disagree with Esiason, but that's one big vote of confidence in Cincinnati's current starter.