4 Bengals to pay close attention to during training camp

(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
(Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /
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Joseph Ossai, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Joseph Ossai, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Can Joseph Ossai stake a claim to be the second most dangerous pass rusher

Perhaps the best news of last week was the announcement that Joseph Ossai was ready to begin preseason healthy.

It means the darling of Bengals’ preseason last year should hit the ground running this season. The third-rounder caused headaches for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a warm-up game, only to suffer a meniscus injury that ruled him out for the year. He returns with an opportunity to become the speed-rusher this defense needs.

Trey Hendrickson was the standout on the defensive line last year with 14 sacks, but the Bengals will be without Larry Ogunjobi, who contributed seven. Even though Ossai hasn’t taken a regular-season snap, there are lofty expectations for him to fill in some of that gap.

There is reason to be cautious when projecting Ossai’s performance in 2022. Not only is he effectively a rookie, but he has also had major surgery on his knee. It’s not even like Ossai was an early-round selection. The Day 2 pick out of Texas flashed during his college career but only logged 11 sacks across three seasons as a Longhorn.

That’s why many eyes will be eager to see how he looks early in camp. Will he be able to show the athleticism and bend that convinced many he could be a replacement for the Carl Lawson role on the defensive front? Hopefully, he does, and the Bengals will enter the year with three very effective edge defenders.