It’s Now or Never for these Cincinnati Bengals

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Dontay Moch

August 16, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) is tackled by Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Dontay Moch (52) and defensive back Taylor Mays (26) in the first half at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Well this couldn’t be more of an obvious choice here after reading this quote from Marvin Lewis (provided by a great blog post from Dan Hoard).

"“It’s really make it or break it for him,” said Coach Lewis. “I’m excited for him. He knows what his role is going to be. I thought he did a much better job for us last year in special teams in the preseason and hopefully he can continue with that and have a chance to be one of the guys to stay.”"

Fans are experiencing déjà vu seeing Moch back in the stripes. After being drafted in the third round of 2011 draft, Moch consistently struggled trying to stay healthy suffering from a foot injury and then chronic migraines. He seems to have proven to be over the migraines after spending the bulk of 2013 on the Cardinals’ active roster; he even contributed his first sack. The Bengals originally drafted the college defensive lineman with hopes of transitioning him to linebacker (due to his smaller size). This off-season they’ve decided to go away from this and line him up at his original position.

"“We tried him some at linebacker and we realized that the best thing that he does in pass rush,” said defensive coordinator Paul Guenther. “So we’re going to have him concentrate on defensive end and hopefully he’ll give us an added burst off the edge.”"

Moch has a difficult camp battle ahead of him with veteran Robert Geathers standing in his way while getting a challenge from the talented Sam Montgomery, a third round pick in 2013 of the Houston Texans. Moch does have some advantages in these battles. While battling against Geathers, Moch will offer better pass-rushing ability, something the team could use after the loss of Michael Johnson. Robert Geathers has always been a productive player against the run, but the team played well against the run even in Geathers’ absence. Moch will also present the team with the significantly cheaper option as it continues to seek financial flexibility and enable themselves to retain some of its promising stars. Against Montgomery, Moch spent two off-seasons and one regular seasons with the Bengals, so he knows the system. Montgomery was miscast as a linebacker following a stellar collegiate career at defensive end, like Moch, and will benefit from a move back to his natural position, like Moch. But knowing the Bengals system and his fellow linemen gives Moch the advantage. Moch also possesses unique speed for an defensive lineman. Moch displayed uber-athleticism at his combine in 2011 while posting the fastest 40 yard dash time ever for a defensive lineman at 4.44. This gives him the speed to contribute on special teams in a way that most reserve linemen cannot; more like a linebacker in this way. If Moch can stay healthy and produce the kind of pass-rush he has in past preseasons (he led the team with 3.5 sacks in 2012 and 3.0 sacks in 2013) and perform on special teams the way he is capable of, he should give himself a great shot to make the roster. But as Marvin Lewis alluded to, “it’s really make it or break it for him.”