Observation deck: Bengals-Falcons

Here are some observations from the Cincinnati Bengals' 34-10 preseason win at the Atlanta Falcons:

  • Judging by the first two series by the first-team offense, the Bengals are going to use two tight ends as their primary formation. It makes sense because that way both Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert, two first-round picks, are on the field. Of Andy Dalton's eight drop-backs, three passes went to his tight ends. By going with two tight ends, the Bengals use a single back and no fullback.

  • Dalton didn't have much time to get into a rhythm. He was 3-of-7 for 37 yards. In his two drives, the Bengals managed 24 total yards and two first downs but never crossed midfield.

  • The Bengals played without three starters on offense, but that doesn't excuse them for hurting themselves worse with mistakes. The offense committed three penalties in the first quarter and every one came from the offensive line. Left guard Clint Boling had a false start on third down, and the other two penalties were committed by players competing for the starting center job (Kyle Cook and Trevor Robinson).

  • Rookie running back Giovani Bernard provided a glimpse of what he could do. On his first catch of the game, he nearly converted a third-and-20, gaining 16 yards on a short pass. He then ended the first half with a 1-yard touchdown on fourth-and-goal, which put the Bengals up 17-3 at halftime.

  • In the backup quarterback battle, Josh Johnson made big plays and John Skelton looked better than he has all summer. Even though Johnson isn't the most consistent thrower, he comes up with yards in big chunks, with his feet as well as his arm. Johnson had 60 yards on three runs in the first half, including a 43-yard scramble. He later connected on a 21-yard touchdown with Brandon Tate, getting the ball through tight coverage. Skelton, though, threw his best pass as a Bengal, hitting Dane Sanzenbacher on a 36-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter. He finished 4-of-5 for 72 yards, which resulted in a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

  • Speaking of Sanzenbacher, he scored two touchdowns in the preseason opener. In addition to the touchdown catch, he ran back a punt 71 yards for a score in the third quarter.

  • One of the biggest knocks on middle linebacker Rey Maualuga is his pass coverage. But he came up big on third down in the first quarter, running to the sideline to stop former Bengals tight end Chase Coffman short of the first down.

  • Starters who didn't play: WR A.J. Green (hamstring), LT Andrew Whitworth (knee), FB Chris Pressley (knee) and DE Carlos Dunlap (concussion).