Now that training camp is about to open, we’ll begin hearing about certain players who the coaching staff feel good about and are expecting big things from this year. It’s starting took as though second-year safety George Iloka might just be one of those guys. And with the Cincinnati Bengals having a lot of questions at that position, they need Iloka to have a good training camp, if for no other reason, than to give them some solid depth there.
Iloka, a fifth-rounder out of Boise State in 2012, didn’t see much action last year other than spot duty on special teams, but safeties typically take a year to fully grasp Mike Zimmer’s defensive system, and with the Bengals’ lack of depth at the position, he figures to get on the field a lot more in 2013.
Speaking to the media last week, Iloka was one of the players Marvin Lewis pointed out who he expects to make some noise once training camp opens next week:
I think George Iloka has had a fine spring. We’re excited about Devon (Still) and Brandon (Thompson). They had great learning experiences after not playing much as rookies.
Today at the Bengals media kickoff luncheon, Lewis again sang the praises of Lioka, as well as his competition at safety:
Liked springs of Iloka, Williams, Mays
— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) July 23, 2013
Iloka is a freak specimen at 6-foot-4, 225 with 34 1/2-inch arms, and possesses the size to become a matchup player against the NFL’s more athletic tight ends, so there’s reason to believe he has the best chance to see his playing time increase, and he may even find himself starting at some point in 2013.