Bengals TE Drew Sample can’t let injury hinder 2022 season

Drew Sample, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Drew Sample, Cincinnati Bengals (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Which Cincinnati Bengals tight end can fill C.J. Uzomah’s shoes in 2022? If tight end Drew Sample can stay healthy, he could be in for a very productive season.

The fourth-year tight end has showed flashes of his pass-catching skills during his tenure in Cincy, and he also has proven to be a dependable blocker for the run game.

This preseason, Sample will fight for a starting spot against former Falcons tight end Hayden Hurst, with Hurst arguably having the edge with more talent and experience as a receiver. Sample also left Thursday’s practice on a cart and will reportedly miss a couple of weeks due to a leg injury, which deals a tough blow to his chances to earning the TE1 role.

Bleacher Report’s Alex Kay named the NFL players with the most to prove in 2022 preseason and had Bengals’ Sample on the list:

"Sample, whose rookie contract is coming to an end after the upcoming campaign, is now getting his best chance to prove himself, but the 26-year-old will still need to beat out Hayden Hurst for snaps.A scary training-camp leg injury could set Sample back in his quest to become the starter—he was already working with the second-string offense before the injury—but there should be plenty of opportunity for Sample to usurp Hurst atop the depth chart in the preseason if he can stay healthy."

Bengals’ Drew Sample is facing an uphill battle to earn a starting TE spot in 2022

Sample is entering the final year of his deal and hasn’t yet lived up to his second-round potential, and another middling season from him could see him out of Cincinnati next year.

The 26-year-old recorded his best season back in 2020 when he posted 40 catches for 349 yards and one touchdown, but he heavily regressed last year and eventually got phased out of the passing offense.

2022 brings upon a new season and new hopes for the unproven tight end, but Sample will be facing a steep uphill battle to win the starting tight end position given his recent injury.

Hayden Hurst has impressed in training camp so far, garnering praise from Bengals wideout Tyler Boyd, and behind Hurst other starter hopefuls like Mitchell Wilcox and Thaddeus Moss could feasibly overtake Sample on the depth chart in the next few weeks.

With roughly a month to go until the start of the season, as many as four Bengals players have their eyes on the starting tight end role prize.

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Our money’s on Hurst winning the job, but a dominant preseason performance from a healthy Sample could add exciting intrigue to this on-going position battle.