Cincinnati Bengals: Predicting Practice Squad
DT: Christo Bilukidi and LaKendrick Ross (vs. Devon Still)
Sep 15, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Christo Bilukidi (96) sacks Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Chad Henne (7) during the second quarter at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Much like the defensive end battle, the Bengals now have an interesting choice to within their defensive tackle group.
I would’ve highly doubted the team would place Devon Still on the practice squad prior to this rule change, but the team could consider the fact that opposing teams may be in the same boat as them and may prefer to utilize players from their own system rather than pick up a three-year veteran who’s struggled to see the field and stay healthy like Still. With that thought in mind, I remain unconvinced the Bengals attempt to place Still on the practice squad as he would be a perfect fit in a 3-4 defense as either a nose tackle or defensive end. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther has expressed wanting to use multiple fronts and I believe he may try to carve out a role for Still while occasionally showing a 3-4 look.
"“Being a little bit more multiple with our fronts. We usually play one front most of the time. When you play teams that are good running teams you have to mix it up a little bit against those teams. Sometimes the match ups aren’t always going to be your way but you have to make sure you get the match ups the way you want it.”"
Because Still more than likely makes the final roster, the Bengals are left with Christo Bilukidi and LaKendrick Ross. Bilukidi has had a great off-season so far, but may fall victim to the numbers game come final cuts. If the Bengals let him go, I’d be surprised if he wasn’t quickly claimed (like the Cowboys did with former Bengals DT, Zach Minter). In two games he’s produced three tackles, a sack, a tackle-for-loss (TFL), and a quarterback hit. I just don’t see all 31 other teams passing up on his talent.
The Bengals last option is rookie UDFA LaKendrick Ross. He’s a hulk of a man at 6’5″, 365 pounds. He’s athletic (see video, please) and Marvin Lewis has called him the “strongest man in the building.”
It’s conceivable that the Bengals could go heavy along the line and keep Ross on the practice squad alone, but I simply doubt it’ll happen this way. Rather, I see the Bengals keeping both players as they both offer great potential in different roles.