Word around camp was that second year CB Brandon Ghee looked like the most improved Bengal on defense and was possibly in line for a significant role this year. That was, until he went down with a dislocated wrist and will miss the whole regular season.
5th round draft pick Shaun Prater went down with a season ending knee injury before getting any in-game snaps so nobody is sure yet what to expect from him.
On the other hand is first round draft selection from the NCAA National Champion Albama Crimson Tide cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick. He has only participated in a handful of practices and has yet to see any action during the preseason as he battles with a knee injury.
He could still see significant time during the regular season but it is rumored that he is transitioning slowly from Bama head coach Nick Saban’s defense to Zimmers.
Corner backs Leon Hall, Nate Clements, Jason Allen and Adam Jones are being heavily leaned on at this time while these other situations sort themselves out. On paper it seems like Cincinnati has a potential dream team of corners but there are a lot of “Ifs” looming over this squad presently and until some stability is established there is a reason for concern.
The pass rush seems like they’re up to the task of applying constant pressure on the opposing quarterback, which is a defensive backs best friend. This should bode well for a Bengals defense that finished in the top 10 in the NFL last year as the secondary sorts through their long list of injuries.
One defensive back that could help to avoid any further injuries is newly acquired strong safety Taylor Mays. The friendly fire has got to stop. In 2 out of 2 preseason games Mays has injured or nearly injured his own teammate. Mays knocked rookie LB Vontaze Burfict out of last weeks game against the Atlanta Falcons with his first known concussion and nearly knocked himself out trying to tackle New York Jets rookie WR Stephen Hill with his helmet.
A very bright spot has been FS Reggie Nelson. He has been flying all over the field and punishing people with leveling blows. If Nelson manages to keep from getting burned on gambles for most of the year he could have a Pro Bowl season and re-earn his college nickname the Eraser.
Hall and Clements have been the highlights of the corner backs for the Bengals anf they should continue to play at a high level barring injury. But the Bengals need a third corner to emerge and hold down the third corner position as the NFL has become a pass-happy league that thrives on mismatches in coverage.