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SCOUT'S HONOR: Bengals' preseason report card

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Offense

What will happen at the quarterback position? will likely win the battle over — but neither is the answer for the . They have some talented targets in the passing game, but they need to mature and develop consistency. could become a playmaker and might be a clutch guy underneath. They have two young tight ends — and Matt Schobel — who have fine tools, but need to gain experience. The offensive line has been stabilized, but the transition between and Levi Jones is worth watching at left tackle. Jones has really impressed the with his natural skills.
Grade: C

Defense

The front seven is very active and productive. Teams would love to have a young nucleus of , , and up front. They have depth in the secondary, but still need front-line talent that can create turnovers. Rookie free safety Lamont Thompson could be an answer at free safety. He's a natural playmaker. But they ideally need a cornerback who can shut down opponents. They feel veteran could be a major boost, but he's not the difference-maker they need here.
Grade: B

Special Teams

The are going nowhere fast until they get better production from their special teams. Their kicking game is terrible. has been horrible and looks to be on the way out. But rookie Travis Dorsch isn't a sure thing. has the potential to become a solid punter, but is still developing. And the return game definitely needs a boost.
Grade: D

Coaching

Dick LeBeau has done a solid job. He's brought some discipline and order to the club. And the players respect him a lot. They have defensive coordinator — Mark Duffner — who has a bright future in the league.
Grade: B+

Intangibles

The have a very favorable schedule to make some noise if things come together. Team leadership is improving, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Grade: B+

The Outlook

This is an improving team with a developing young core of talent, but deficiencies in too many key areas could keep them from making the playoffs this season.
Grade: C Brian DeLucia is a respected college and pro personnel consultant around the NFL. Formerly a consultant with Rivals.com and Pro Football Digest.com, Brian heads into his third season with FOXSports.com providing commentary around the NFL and NFL Draft.
Tagged: Bengals, Colts, Jon Kitna, Takeo Spikes, Sean Brewer, Neil Rackers, Justin Smith, Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Nick Harris, Gus Frerotte

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