When the Cincinnati Bengals set up shop for training camp across from Paul Brown Stadium on July 24th, there were lots of questions surrounding the offense. Would Andy Dalton‘s contract situation be resolved soon? Who will be the starting center? Is there room on the roster for BenJarvus Green-Ellis?
So far in camp, rookie running back Jeremy Hill out of LSU is making Green-Ellis’s chances at having a big role or even a roster spot for the Bengals this season a tough one.
The Bengals had high expectations for Hill when they took him in the second round as the 55th overall pick in the 2014 draft. His speed and running ability made him a pretty prospect to take the ball behind No. 1 running back Giovani Bernard, who is entering his second season.
According to Geoff Hobson of bengals.com, the rookie is making it look like he has been doing this for years. On the last run of the teams 11-0n-11 drills Sunday, Hill cut it back underneath the guard and steamrolled over the defense. Part of what makes Hill seem so at ease on the field is that he is comfortable with offensive coordinator Hue Jackson’s system. That’s because Jackson has coached with LSU’s offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron, in the past.
Hill told bengals.com that “They have some of the same sayings, some of the same jokes…Sometimes I laugh inside my head. No one else knows it,” Hill said. “It’s helped me a lot having a guy that comes from the same background. I relate quicker and it’s an easier transition to a lot of the plays.”
Another rookie making a strong impression on the other side of the ball is cornerback Darqueze Dennard. Bengals’ coaches have said that he is making “Leon Hall-esque” plays. Dennard has had a couple interceptions the past few days, and has looked solid playing with the special teams unit as well. The Bengals may have a log jam at cornerback for the first time in a long time, and that is a good thing.
Terrence Newman has looked good the first few days of camp despite being 35 this season, Adam Jones has been playing well, and Leon Hall looks like he is making a speedy and successful recovery from a torn Achilles he suffered last season. Throw third year cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick into the mix, and you have a lot of guys fighting for some playing time. The past few seasons the Bengals have had their fair share of injuries and lack of depth at the position, so this season will shape up to be a nice one in the secondary if all the corners can stay healthy.
So far, so good for the Bengals’ first two picks in the 2014 draft. Dennard and Hill were two players who were expected to have an immediate impact and they’ve shown why out on the practice fields. Both still have a lot to learn about NFL football, but they are giving Bengals fans something to be excited about in 2014.