3 things to watch for in Bengals vs. Raiders
09/12/2015 07:00 PM
1. A.J. Green The star wideout will play in his first game since signing a 4-year, $60 million contract extension with the Bengals. He hasn’t let the contract talk affect his play much but it should still be interesting to see how he performs with that weight off his shoulders. Green is also one to watch because he only needs one 100-yard game to surpass Isaac Curtis (20) for second most in Bengals history behind Chad Johnson (31).
2. Dre Kirkpatrick vs. Amari Cooper Kirkpatrick’s first game as a starter has been a long time coming. The cornerback has worked and waited patiently for his opportunity, which will finally come Sunday. He’ll likely match up with Raiders receiver Amari Cooper for the majority of the game. Both Kirkpatrick and Cooper played at Alabama but never crossed paths. Kirkpatrick has said from what he’s seen he feels like Cooper comes in NFL-ready so he doesn’t expect the receiver to struggle in his first professional game. This match-up is anticipated to be a good one but it’s hard to know for sure with a rookie wideout.
3. The return of Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson. Okay, so Atkins played last season but Sunday should mark the return of 2013 pre-injury Geno Atkins. Coaches and teammates have been raving all preseason that one of the league’s best defensive tackles has been playing like himself again. Atkins is the type of player who has the ability to wreck an opponents’ game plan so watch for how much more disruptive the defensive line is with Geno playing like his old self. Also watch for Defensive end Michael Johnson. He’s been injured throughout preseason but practiced all week and is listed as probable. His return would be huge for the Bengals’ pass rush.