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Bengals DC Says There’s No Question About Safety Position With Bates, Hill: ‘Dax Has His Role, Jessie Has His’

Remember Dax Hill, the first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals who supposedly single-handedly annihilated any hope of Jessie Bates III continuing his career in the city beyond this season? Well, that’s still probably going to be true. But he shouldn’t have any impact on how Bates plays, or where, or when, during the 2022 season.

Even though the veteran safety skipped the vast majority of the offseason, and there was even talk that he could sit out the season entire after the two sides failed to work out a new deal by the July 15 deadline for players under the franchise tag, Bates has been ‘all in’ since reporting to camp, and his role is not expected to change at all—something the Bengals have been preparing for all along.

Dax has his role. Jessie has his. They are two separate entities”, Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo recently told reporters when he was asked about how the safety position would play out between the two. “We’ve been practicing Dax at the things he’s going to do through the year even before Jessie got here”.

Of course, I’m not expecting anybody to be surprised by this. That’s not the point. The point is simply that we have one more year to deal with Bates on the back end of this Bengals defense, in which he has been a key cog since his rookie season in 2018.

“I just think Jessie is going to do what Jessie has done the last four years here and we’ll plug in Dax in certain areas”, Anarumo spelled it out even more clearly. “Sometimes they’ll be on the field at the same time, sometimes they won’t. We have to see how it plays out”.

He did say that they will have a three-safety package with Hill, which is what they have been working on him with throughout training camp in order to get him ready to do what they would be asking him to do once the regular season began.

Hill is a versatile defensive back who is also capable of playing in the slot, although he will not be asked to be the team’s primary nickel defender. That, of course, is Mike Hilton, the former Pittsburgh Steeler who signed with the Bengals as an unrestricted free agent last offseason.

The Steelers are hoping to have a very strong defensive back sub-grouping as well, and indeed, they are probably stronger in terms of their overall depth than they are in their starters, outside of free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick.

Levi Wallace figures to be the primary nickel defender, playing on the outside with Cameron Sutton rolling into the slot, with Tre Norwood serving as the dime defender, but Arthur Maulet is another candidate to see time in the slot, and once Damontae Kazee gets back from the Reserve/Injured List, they could very well have a three-safety package ready for him. They were already working on one at the time of his injury.

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