Cincinnati Bengals: 5 Players to Lock Up During Training Camp

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Dec 22, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Detailed view of Cincinnati Bengals free safety Reggie Nelson (20) dreadlocks against the Denver Broncos at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

5. Reggie Nelson

When watching the Bengals play on a week-to-week basis, one player on defense seems to jump off the screen–because he is the team’s best ball-hawk and because of his dreads that fly all over the place whenever he makes a big play–that player is Reggie Nelson.

A feared ball-hawk, Nelson has accrued 22 career interceptions, 15 of those coming during his tenure with the Bengals. Last season, Nelson recorded 95 combined tackles, finishing second on the team behind only Vincent Rey. Along with those tackles, 61 of which were solo tackles, Nelson intercepted four passes and recorded 1.5 sacks. Nelson also recorded 12 passes defensed, which only trailed Malcolm Jenkins‘ 15 PD’s among NFL safeties.

Nelson has developed a reputation among NFL players as a heavy hitting ball-hawk who can change the game at any moment. His on-field tenacity is evident in his big collisions with opposing players and his interceptions that almost always seem to come just when the Bengals need one.

Cincinnati needs to lock up Nelson for at least two more years as soon as possible; the former Jaguar has found his place in Cincinnati and has stepped up as a leader in Paul Guenther’s defense. As Nelson continues to instill fear in opposing defenses, he can also mentor fellow starting safety George Iloka, as well as rookies Derron Smith and Josh Shaw.

Next: 4. Peko's Future Replacement