Ah, yes. Another Cincinnati Bengals article, another recap of a player once heavily coveted within our Pittsburgh Steelers community. While we at Steelers Depot got woefully wrong the draft stock of defensive tackle Andrew Billings—to be fair, so did most draft analysts—he still landed with the Bengals, albeit in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft rather than the first.
Steelers fans no longer take umbrage over it given how Javon Hargrave has developed, but, a year after suffering a torn ACL, Billings is out to prove that he should have been drafted higher than he was. And according to the Cincinnati Enquirer, he has been looking good.
While to date the Bengals are still starting veteran Pat Sims over the second-year interior defensive lineman, he did show well in 15 snaps during the team’s first preseason game, and the plan is to work up his snap count to see what he can do, perhaps with the possibility of jumping into the starting lineup.
The Enquirer’s Jim Owczarski spoke to Billings back during the spring, and he told the reporter then that he was working on just getting his knee right, but that later on in the process he wanted to focus on his pass rush.
The reporter believes that his pass rush was actually something that stuck out for him during training camp. While he is a bigger player, you might recall that one of the features that we liked about him was his potential to offer a pass rush from the defensive interior.
And now he is just hoping to pair with Geno Atkins to create a formidable duo for the Steelers and the rest of the league to have to deal with. Adding another nine sacks last year, Atkins continues to be one of the top defensive tackles in the league, and improving his defensive tackle pairing could only make him more effective.
“He doesn’t open nothing for me – it’s my job to open up stuff for him and let him do what he does”, Billings said of playing with the Pro Bowler.
“Like my coach says, the three technique’s the bad ass on the team so I’ve got to cover his back. Whatever he’s going to do is going to work, so it’s my job to make sure wherever he goes I’ll just refill in and take some double teams off him this year and let him shine. That’s how we’ll get ‘W’s,’ really”.
While Sims, the 10th-year player, has spent most of his career with the Bengals, he has never served as a full-time starter, but he has been moved into the starting lineup since they parted with Domata Peko. Billings could certainly push for the starting job over the course of the rest of the preseason.