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Three Defensive Moves Bengals Must Make During Training Camp

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Jan 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Hakeem Nicks (14) catches a pass against Cincinnati Bengals strong safety George Iloka (43) in the first half in the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas J. Russo-USA TODAY Sports

Extend George Iloka’s Contact

Amongst all of the Bengals’ impending 2016 free agents (even including A.J. Green), one could argue the most important player Cincinnati must retain in 2016 is safety George Iloka.

Iloka has steadily developed since being drafted by the Bengals with a fifth-round pick in 2012.  His draft fall has remained a motivation for him during his three seasons in the NFL.  His rookie season was a quiet affair, as the Bengals still employed Nate Clements.  Once the 2013 offseason kicked off, things began to change for Iloka.  He managed to beat out 2013 rookie Shawn Williams for the team’s starting safety spot next to Reggie Nelson, and Iloka went on to have a solid year.

Things really took shape for George Iloka this past season.  Iloka continued to establish himself as a hard-hitting force and a player who provides good support in the box.  More importantly, Iloka improved both in coverage and his awareness both before and during plays.  His statistics from this past season reflect this improvement as he accounted for three interceptions and 10 pass deflections versus only one and six respectively in 2013.

George Iloka’s newfound ability to identify plays before the snap has allowed him to more effectively lead the secondary by calling audibles and aligning teammates, and then make plays for the defense.  As an effective player both in coverage and when acting as a “box” safety, George Iloka has developed into a complete player at only 25 years old.  Having come so far in such a short amount of time means Iloka has several years to both improve and continue to become a leader on this team.  Signing him to an extension prior to the start of 2015 will ensure he stays off the market and in Cincinnati for years to come.

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