Three key goals and top battle

© Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Three key goals and top battle

Three goals:

--The Bengals need to determine whether or not speedy wide receiver John Ross can contribute. Reports indicate that he looked good during the offseason, but the jury is out after he missed most of his rookie season with injuries. If he can be effective, he will give quarterback Andy Dalton a speedy weapon on the outside and take some of the pressure off wide receiver A.J. Green.

--Shoring up the offensive line is a concern heading into preseason camp. The unit was one of the weakest in the NFL last season and the Bengals took some steps in the offseason to address the problem. A trade with the Buffalo Bills for Cordy Glenn should solidify the left tackle spot and rookie Billy Price is almost assuredly the starter at center. The biggest question mark appears to be at right tackle, where Cedric Ogbuehi, who struggled mightily last year, and Jake Fisher look to be the front-runners.

--Linebacker Vontaze Burfict's suspension muddles the linebacker situation. Despite all the trouble Burfict has caused the Bengals with his behavior, the team maintains that it will not move on from him. With Burfict not available until early October, the Bengals will be forced to do some shuffling. Preston Brown, the Bills' former leading tackler, should help.

Top battle:

--Defensive end. The spot opposite Carlos Dunlap could be a dogfight among several candidates. Michael Johnson is the front-runner, but Jordan Willis and rookie third-round draft pick Sam Hubbard could push for playing time. There's also Carl Lawson, who emerged during his rookie year as a pass-rushing specialist as an outside linebacker. He bulked up during the offseason and could be utilized as a stand-up rusher.

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