Jay Tufele made his presence known in his Cincinnati Bengals debut. Hopefully, this is a sign of great things to come.
Tufele, a second-year pro out of USC, was considered an early selection in the 2021 draft. Some analysts had him going as high as the second round. Instead, he went in the fourth round to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jags released the defensive tackle on cutdown day this year, and the Bengals immediately claimed him off waivers.
Cincinnati was obviously high on him, yet Tufele only saw his first game action as a Bengal on Sunday against the New Orleans Saints and it was impressive. He finished the game with six total tackles and one tackle for loss while in on 32% of the defensive snaps.
Jay Tufele could be a contributor for Bengals
With a performance like that, in such a critical game, look for Tufele to be active on game days from now on.
It was an impressive debut for Tufele. We can only hope that he continues to be because he is going to be needed going forward. Josh Tupou left the game with an injury and hopefully, it is not too significant. Also, D.J. Reader is slowly making his way back from injured reserve. The Bengals are going to need more depth at the defensive tackle position.
However, after his performance against the Saints, Tufele should be looked at more favorably than just a depth piece. If that comes to fruition, it might be at the expense of the Bengals’ third-round rookie, Zach Carter. While Carter took more snaps, Tufele had the most significant impact.
Tufele’s totals from Sunday’s were game, six tackles, and one tackle for loss. Carter’s season totals are six tackles. So Tufele bettered Carter’s season totals in one game. This is not an indictment on Carter or an expectation that we should hold our breath for Tufele to repeat this performance every Sunday. But it is a sign that we should see more of Tufele going forward.
It is still early in the season, and Carter is still a rookie. He has time to grow into the player the Bengals hoped he would become when they selected him 95th overall. But if Tufele continues koto play like this, the Bengals will not be able to keep him off the field.
Side note, it was nice to see the number 97 on the field making plays from the defensive tackle spot again.
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All stats provided by Pro Football Reference.