Bengals give starters the day off; backups lose to Colts 13-10

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals weren't taking any chances against the Indianapolis Colts on Thursday after watching special-teams captain Cedric Peerman break his forearm against the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third preseason game Sunday. Starters Adam Jones and A.J. Green incurred minor injuries in the contest.

Quarterback Andy Dalton and almost every other starter didn't even take the field at Paul Brown Stadium against the Colts on Thursday. In fact, the most work Dalton had all night might have been when he jogged down the sideline pregame to greet St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Matt Carpenter, a fellow TCU alum.

Most of Dalton's night was spent chatting with his teammates on the sideline.

The Bengals essentially did what they needed to escape the preseason without any more injuries. The backups lost to the Colts 13-10, but the Bengals' eyes have been on the Week 1 opener at the New York Jets for a while now. Any last-minute work they needed or wanted to get in was likely accomplished against the Jaguars, when both sides of the ball looked crisp and efficient on their first drives.

"Our focus is on the Jets, and I felt that our main guys had accomplished what they needed to accomplish in the preseason," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said in halftime quotes distributed by the team. "It was best to let them have the night off tonight."

The Bengals won't play again until Sept. 11, when they travel to MetLife Stadium to kick off the regular season against the Jets.

QB depth chart: Dalton didn't take a snap, and why should he? Two teams (the Vikings and the Cowboys) saw their starting quarterbacks go down during the preseason. It's no surprise the Bengals wanted to be cautious. However, if something were to happen to Dalton, they already know what they have in AJ McCarron, who played a half and completed 7 of 12 passes for 95 yards and no touchdowns before handing things off to Keith Wenning. There's no drama here. The Bengals will keep Dalton and McCarron, but they won't have three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.

Another big play for Derron Smith: The Bengals safety has made plays all preseason, and he was credited with another one early in Thursday's game. Smith and cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris combined to force a fumble by Robert Turbin at the Bengals' 6-yard line. P.J. Dawson recovered the ball for the turnover. Smith also had an interception return for a touchdown against the Lions and a touchdown-saving pass breakup in the end zone against the Jaguars.

Who got hurt? Lewis-Harris left with a stinger, but with most of the starters sitting, there weren't any injury scares Thursday. Jones, who suffered a calf strain prior to the game against the Jaguars, participated as as captain in the pre-game coin toss but was not dressed for action.

A surprise player who impressed: Rookie linebacker Trevor Roach. I penciled in Roach on my 53-man roster Sunday, but I considered him one of the last ones in. That might have been on his mind, too, because he played like it. Roach had a team-leading 11 tackles.

Another rookie who looked the part: Rookie linebacker Nick Vigil made a leaping interception on the Bengals' 5-yard line at the end of the second quarter to save a touchdown and preserve a 0-0 tie going into halftime.

When it was starters vs. starters, the Bengals looked ... bored. Most of the starters never saw the field, on both sides of the ball. The Bengals are a team with few surprises at their starting positions this season, so there weren't any veterans playing Thursday to maintain a starting spot.

Which potential starters got work? Not many. The Bengals started with their second team in on both sides. There weren't many players of note who got significant playing time, although rookie wide receiver Tyler Boyd, the team's second-round draft pick this year, played about a half. Rookie Alex Erickson, who nabbed the kick-return spot over Brandon Tate, played most of the game at returner and receiver.

What's next? The Bengals say goodbye to 22 more players when they have to cut their roster to 53 men by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. They'll also say goodbye to starting linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who begins a three-game suspension this weekend and will not be allowed at the facility while serving it. Burfict was suspended for repeated violations of player safety rules, and his appeal was denied, meaning there will be no last-minute reprieve.