When the Cincinnati Bengals come to Orchard Park on Sunday to take on the Buffalo Bills, there will be quite a few players and coaches wearing orange and black who are familiar with the Bills’ home field. Likewise, the Bills have added some former Bengals to their roster this season, making for an interesting preseason matchup.
Cincinnati’s first former Bill was a cornerstone of Buffalo’s offensive line until injuries slowed him down. Left tackle Cordy Glenn was dealt to the Bengals in the offseason, along with the 21st overall pick and a 5th round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, for Cincinnati’s first-round draft pick, number 12 overall, and their sixth-round pick. That twelfth pick was then used by the Bills to move up to number 7 to take Josh Allen, so in theory, Allen isn’t a Bill without an assist from the Bengals.
Also joining the Bengals this year is middle linebacker Preston Brown, who left Buffalo after his rookie contract expired. Brown played nearly every snap for the duration of his time in Buffalo, and he led the NFL in tackles in 2017 with 144. Brown signed a one-year contract worth $4 million with the Bengals in March.
On the sideline, Cincinnati’s head coach Marvin Lewis has two former Buffalo players on his staff. Linebackers coach Jim Haslett was a popular linebacker with the Bills, suiting up for the team from 1979-1985. The second-round pick played in 91 games as a Bill, starting 84, accumulating 5 interceptions, 4.5 sacks, and 11 fumble recoveries with the team. A broken leg suffered in the 1986 preseason caused him to miss the entirety of that season, and after a year with the New York Jets, Haslett retired.
The other coach with a Buffalo connection is former backup quarterback, quarterback’s coach, and offensive coordinator for the Bills, Alex Van Pelt. “Pill,” as he was named by Jim Kelly, played with the Bills from 1995-2003. He appeared in 31 regular season games, starting 11 of them. He completed 54% of his passes over his career, throwing for 2,985 yards, 16 touchdowns, and 24 interceptions. In 2009, he became Buffalo’s offensive coordinator only nine days prior to the beginning of the season, taking over when head coach Dick Jauron fired Turk Schonert. The Bills’ offense finished 30th in yards and 28th in points that season, and Van Pelt was fired in January 2010.
As for the Bills, they have two former Bengals on their roster. Center Russell Bodine, after starting every game of his professional career over the last four years with Cincinnati, has been locked in a battle for the starting job with Ryan Groy this year. A fourth-round pick in 2014, Bodine is familiar with the other former Bengal on Buffalo’s roster, quarterback AJ McCarron, who was also selected by the Bengals in the 2014 NFL Draft, just in the fifth round.
McCarron has not performed as well as he would have hoped in coming to Buffalo. Through two preseason games, McCarron has the worst line of the three Bills quarterbacks, completing 10-of-16 passes for 128 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions. The fifth-year man injured his collarbone last week against the Cleveland Browns, and while initial reports said it was broken, those proved to be inaccurate, as McCarron returned to practice this week.
Other connections between the two teams include:
- Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, who head the same position with the Bengals in 2003 and 2004
- Bengals wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell, who coached tight ends with the Bills in 2010 and 2011, and wide receivers in 2012
- Bills offensive lineman Marshall Newhouse, who made 5 starts for the Bengals in 2014
- Bengals cornerback Tony McRae, whom the Bills claimed off waivers and released two days later during October 2017
(H/T to the Bengals’ Official Website for the bullet-point section)