Who improved their stock and who suffered a setback in the Bengals' 24-19 win at Atlanta on Thursday? RapidReports takes a closer look at Cincinnati's winners and losers.


Andy Dalton: The 50-yard bullet to A.J. Green sliced the air with the look of a player telling his arm-strength critics to shut it. That pass and the others, which showed off his power may have grabbed headlines, but his continued quality decision-making grabbed the attention of coaches. He finished 8 of 14 for 125 yards, with a 8.9 yards per attempt number. That's the key stat of Thursday night. Dalton aggressively attacked the Falcons defense by throwing down the field. Many games last year were filled with check downs and dump-offs; he's clearly more comfortable attacking the rear quadrant of the defense this season. Aggression down field accounted for his three third-and-long conversions on a night the Bengals converted 57 percent.

“He's playing very, very well,” Marvin Lewis said. “He does nothing but get a little better every time out.”

Jeromy Miles: He's listed as the second-string safety behind Taylor Mays, but Mays should be feeling the heat after Thursday. Miles led the Bengals with eight tackles, adding a forced fumble and interception in the end zone. Miles already owns the reputation as a special teams ace, so his spot on the roster is solidified, but the third-year pro never started an NFL game. The plays he made Thursday gave the impression he's turning the corner as a safety and should be quickly earning the trust of DC Mike Zimmer.

Roddrick Muckelroy: Muckelroy was feeling the heat after UFA Vontaze Burfict came down with an interception and drew praise across the coaching staff following the opener against the Jets. Muckelroy appeared destined for the backup MLB position prior to camp but suddenly felt the pressure. He responded in a big way with eight tackles, including one tackle for loss. Muckelroy, who tore his Achilles last training camp and missed the season, was forced into extended snaps since starter Rey Maualuga missed with a knee sprain and Burfict went out in the first half with a hit to the head. Muckelroy comes out looking more and more like a lock to make the team as a reserve backer.


Offensive line: After a quality opener against the Jets, the new-look Bengals offensive front looked sloppy against Atlanta. The quarterbacks weren't sacked, but spent most of the night feeling repeated pressure. More importantly, the running game was abysmal. Who were the two leading rushers? That would be quarterbacks Bruce Gradkowski (1 for 31) and Zac Robinson (1 for 16). How did the running backs do? The combination of five backs rushed 23 times for 27 yards. Guessing 1.2 yards per carry won't cut it in the film review. That's particularly the case considering the Bengals finished last season 27th in the NFL in yards per rush and dedicated the offseason to upgrading it. Granted, the Bengals were without their top two running backs, BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Bernard Scott, but the line owns the majority of the responsibility.

Jordan Shipley: No bigger loser than the guy who loses his job. The strain on his reconstructed knee finally doomed him Friday. Shipley played late in the game with one target and no receptions. It was abundantly clear the ACL injury suffered in Week 2 last season was not in good enough shape to warrant keeping the AFC's leading rookie receiver in 2010 on the roster. The Bengals waived him Friday.

Terence Newman: Many eyes were on Newman, who spent much of the night battling Roddy White and Julio Jones. This was the toughest test of the preseason to this point and the Falcons duo gave him fits. Newman was docked for two pass interference penalties and was chasing from behind on multiple other passes. Zimmer said Newman has enjoyed an excellent camp, but his first major game test resembled the player let go by Dallas rather than the resurrected superstar Zimmer projected. All that said, Newman will make this team. The fact he's been healthy and reliable in practice and games is more than can be said about half of the team's projected corners.

Follow Paul Dehner Jr. for Bengals news on Twitter at @CBSSportsNFLCIN.