ATLANTA — Giovani Bernard scored in his opening bid for a share of the Bengals’ carries, while Steven Jackson was provided little running room by the Falcons’ depleted offensive line as Cincinnati rolled to a 34-10 preseason win over Atlanta on Thursday night.
Josh Johnson, who directed two second-quarter touchdown drives, made big plays as a passer and runner as he opened the competition for the Bengals’ backup QB job.
Bernard played behind returning starter Benjarvus Green-Ellis and had 10 carries for 28 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run. He added three catches for 16 yards.
Johnson, going against John Skelton for the backup job behind Andy Dalton, passed for 100 yards, including a 21-yard touchdown to Brandon Tate, and ran for 64 yards.
Dane Sanzenbacher had a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 36-yard scoring catch from Skelton.
The first preseason game highlighted the Falcons’ concerns about their rebuilt offensive line. Jackson found little blocking as he had five carries for only 8 yards.
Atlanta lost projected starting right tackle Mike Johnson, likely for the season, when he dislocated his left ankle and broke his left leg in Tuesday’s practice.
Lamar Holmes, a second-year player who appeared in only one game in 2012, moved up as the starting right tackle.
The Falcons had a fast start. Matt Ryan was 3 for 3 for 52 yards on Atlanta’s opening drive, his first with Jackson at running back.
Harry Douglas turned a screen pass from Ryan into a 42-yard gain, but the drive stalled. Ryan completed 6 of 9 passes for 89 yards.
Dalton played only two possessions and went 3 of 7 for 36 yards.
Dominique Davis, mostly ineffective after replacing Ryan in the first half, led a third-quarter touchdown drive capped by his 8-yard pass to Jason Snelling. Davis hit 8 of 19 for 78 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Skelton took over for Johnson late in the third quarter and led a 78-yard touchdown drive finished off with his 36-yard scoring pass to Sanzenbacher, a third-year player who had only one catch in 2012.