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3 Tuesday Bengals Takeaways: 5 wides interesting; Ross' inconsistency; Hart on thin ice?

Veteran offensive tackle Bobby Hart (Bengals)
Veteran offensive tackle Bobby Hart (Bengals)
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CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Each Tuesday throughout the Bengals season I will provide three takeaways from Monday press conference/media availabilities in response to what occurred in the previous Sunday's game:

The five wide receiver package is interesting

The Skinny: The Bengals used a five wide receiver set more than any team in the NFL on Sunday, and it came with mixed reviews as the team had a difficult time protecting with only five linemen - at least until the two-minute drill - although rookie quarterback Joe Burrow had great success in college at LSU with such a strategy.

"You have A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, John Ross, Mike Thomas, Auden Tate, Alex Erickson - you want to get those guys on the field," said head coach Zac Taylor. "There are a lot of weapons that we've got. You can put them on the field at the same time at the receiving group. We've got weapons all over the place. It's just a package we can utilize at certain points."

Taylor was asked about the advantages of using such an alignment.

"We like to look at it as a stress on the defense — that they have some major problems when they look out there and see some of the matchups that creates," said Taylor. "Most teams are going to struggle. They’re going to have a mismatch at some place and it’s our job to find them."

Burrow was coy when asked on Tuesday if it's an alignment the Bengals will use significantly moving forward.

"Sometimes it will be in, sometimes it won’t," said Burrow. "It depends on defensive personnel, injuries that we have. It could also be affected by injuries on other parts of the team or if we have to call a guy up and maybe put another guy down. It just depends on the week. I guess we’ll just have to see if it comes out on Thursday or not."

The Bengals play at the Cleveland Browns on Thursday at 8:20 p.m. and WKRC-TV/Local 12 will televise.

The bottom line is the Bengals do have a dearth of quality wide receivers and it's smart to maximize them, but if the offensive line can't protect then it won't work.

Ross needs to be much more consistent

The Skinny: Fourth-year veteran wide receiver John Ross is a mercurial talent who seemed like he was going to finally breakthough early last season when in the first two games he had 11 receptions for 270 yards and three touchdowns, but he has otherwise been injury-plagued and inconsistent.

That incosistency showed up on Sunday when he short-armed a deep pass from Burrow and then bobbled a pass along the right sideline from Burrow that he should have easily caught in the two-minute drill at the end of the game. He was also flagged for a false start penalty in the final drive.

Taylor wouldn't point the finger just at Ross when asked his inconsistent play.

"The receiver group as a whole you can point to a lot of things that they've just got to be more detailed on," said Taylor. "We look at a lot of clips from practice and we do a great job of it in practice and then your first game you get out there and whether you're just excited to be out there or whatever it is. And it carried over a little bit on defense as well. We've got to take it from practice to the game, and there should be no change."

Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan was also non-commital on whether Burrow threw the ball a touch too far for Ross or if Ross just didn't give a great effort to catch it.

"Uh, it was just a missed opportunity," said Callahan. "It was just off his fingertips. It's a ball you would say could have been thrown better, a ball you could say he could have caught. At the end of the day, it was one of several missed opportunities we had down the field and didn't capitalize on and that was, all things being considered, disappointing."

That last part seems to sum up Ross' career to this point.

Hart didn't exactly get vote of confidence from Taylor

The Skinny: Right tackle Bobby Hart is a lightning rod for Bengals fans. He's impressed two different coaching staffs over the last two years enough to maintain a starting spot, although after struggling in the opener against Chargers ends Joey Bosa and Mevlin Ingram didn't get a great vote of confidence from Taylor on Monday.

"He had some tough moments," said Taylor. "Bosa is arguably one of the best pass rushers in football. We might see one that's going to have the same argument this week in Myles Garrett. So it's a tough task. We've got to take it upon us as an offense to help take the pressure off those tackles when they face guys like that, because those guys are game wreckers. We knew that coming in, that Bosa and Ingram, and that combination of the two. Sometimes it was even hard to see all of them on defense. All you saw when you watched the tape was those two. So we knew it was going to be a test for our guys. We've just got to help those guys the best we can."

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Fred Johnson didn't much of a chance in training camp to unseat Hart, but perhaps another performance like Sunday may have the coaching staff changing its mind.

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