If you haven’t yet heard the name Devon Still, you have probably been living under a rock, or are likely just now getting any type of cable, internet, or news for the first time in a year. During the 2014 season, Still’s daughter, Leah, was diagnosed with cancer at the age just four. Understanding of Still’s trials, the Bengals kept him on the practice squad so his daughter would still be covered by the team’s medical insurance.
After several weeks, Still decided that he was ready to play again, so Cincinnati brought him back up to the 53-man roster. Entering training camp, however, Still’s spot is far from guaranteed. The Bengals defensive tackle now has to earn his roster spot coming into 2015, and he will have to show the team that he still has potential as he looks to keep his job.
Devon Still had a down year in 2014 and it is understandable with the distraction of life away from his daughter; he recorded 19 tackles in 12 games, the most since entering the league. Since the season’s end, Devon Still announced that his daughter’s cancer is in remission; however, she is still fighting VOD, a complication from her stem cell procedure. Despite this, Cincinnati has made it very clear that Still will be judged on talent alone.
A second round pick in the 2012 draft, Still has the talent and potential. Now, it’s a matter of being able to put the two together for Still to earn his place on the Bengals roster.Defensive tackles’ numbers are hard to dictate, Still’s included. However, it’s easy to notice that his best season came in 2012, when he compiled 14 tackles, half a sack and a forced fumble.
Still will need to compete with the intensity that he brought back in 2012–and prove that his injury issues are in the past–to make this roster. Other defensive tackles battling for a roster spot behind the incumbent starters, Geno Atkins and Domata Peko, are Brandon Thompson, Pat Sims, Marcus Hardison and Kwame Geathers. An argument can be made that Still is the fourth-best defensive tackle on the team, so it seems as though this roster spot is Still’s to lose.
With a renewed focus, a drive to prove himself and a desire to earn a spot on Cincinnati’s roster, Devon Still will battle hard come training camp. Still will need to prove to coaches and fans that he is still the player that the Bengals staff took a chance on in the 2012 draft. He’s shown glimpses of talent in each of his NFL seasons, but Still will need to impress coaches to the point where they are certain that he will be competitive all season long.
The decision on whether Cincinnati keeps Still will ultimately be up to Marvin Lewis, Paul Guenther, and the Brown family, but unless we see the injury-plagued and inconsistent Devon Still of the past two seasons, he will not only remain in stripes, but make a difference on a defense determined to improve.