The news of the Bengals bringing safety Chris Crocker back was initially less than thrilling. With the taste of his non-tackle of Adrian Foster in last season’s playoff game against the Texans still lingering, the signing was less than thrilling.
Once the injury report was revealed, showing that cornerbacks Nate Clements (calf) and Jason Allen (thigh) doubtful for Sunday’s game against Jacksonville, and Leon Hall (calf) questionable, the secondary seems very thing. Especially considering that rookie first round pick Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) seems like he is a long, long way from returning.
Crocker was a cornerback in his younger days, and played coverage as the nickel cornerback in his first tour of duty with the Bengals. In fact, by considering his entire body of work, he was exactly the type of player that many (including myself) hoped Jeromy Miles would become: a solid tackler, physical presence in slot coverage, and adept at the blitzes that Mike Zimmer so often sends.
More importantly, Crocker has been playing for Zimmer since the two were together in Atlanta. Now that Crocker is healthy from the knee ailment that slowed him last year, the Bengals really could not have found a better signing for a struggling secondary at this point in time. Most defensive backs would not even be ready to take the field on a short week of practice, but Crocker (Zimmer called him a “coach on the field”) can step in and run a defense that he knows inside and out.
Assuming that he is healthy, Crocker and Reggie Nelson will attempt to regain the form that they displayed as the back end of the Bengals’ top-10 defenses. Based on the reaction of Crocker’s former and current teammates upon his return, he may give the Bengals an emotional boost greatly needed on the defensive side of the ball.