by Dave Richard | Senior Fantasy Writer (5/12/14) The Bengals DST picked up some nice young defenders in the draft, making cornerback Darqueze Dennard their first-round pick and defensive end Will Clarke their third-round pick. Both will provide depth at very important spots for the Bengals, especially since Leon Hall is coming off of Achilles surgery and Michael Johnson hit the trails via free agency.
Are the Bengals still considered a great DST? Losing pass rushers and seeing defensive backs get older aren't usually keys to a team's success. But the biggest loss of all might be defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer leaving to coach the Vikings. Paul Guenther takes over his responsibilities and he's a good coach but it remains to be seen if he can be as good without guys like Michael Johnson and James Harrison and with Geno Atkins coming back from a major knee injury.
The Bengals DST is still worth drafting late, but we might take them with a final-round pick only, not before then.
Bengals draft Darqueze Dennard at No. 24
by Jamey Eisenberg | Senior Fantasy Writer (5/8/14) With the No. 24 pick in the NFL Draft, the Bengals selected cornerback Darqueze Dennard from Michigan State.
Dennard is 5-foot-11, 199 pounds. The Bengals already have Terence Newman and Leon Hall at cornerback, but Dennard could compete for a starting spot right away, especially with Hall coming off an Achilles injury last season. He will make the Bengals defense and Bengals DST better in 2014.
Dennard was the 2013 Thorpe Award winner as the nation's top defensive back, and he finished his career at Michigan State with 10 interceptions in 40 starts.
Report: Carlos Dunlap might have to be cut
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com (2/23/14) Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap, who signed a six-year, $40 million contract last offseason, might have to be released "to create the salary cap room necessary to sign a number of other highly considered players on their roster about to hit free agency," reports DraftInsider.net. Dunlap had 7.5 sacks and four forced fumbles last season.
Defensive end Michael Johnson is one high-profile Bengal about to hit free agency.
Geno Atkins, Leon Hall on track for training camp
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com (2/9/14) Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (torn ACL) and cornerback Leon Hall (torn Achilles') have encountered no setbacks in their rehabs and "it sounds like both are on track to work at some point in camp," reports the team's website. But it's early and "that's why fingers are crossed" that neither star begins the season on the PUP list, the report said.
Leon Hall expects to be 100 percent by training camp
by Larry Hartstein | CBSSports.com (1/29/14) Bengals No. 1 cornerback Leon Hall, who tore his Achilles' in Week 7, expects to be 100 percent healthy for the start of training camp, reports ESPN.com. Even if that's overly optimistic, the website expects Hall to be fully ready for the season opener.
The 29-year-old Hall is signed through 2015.
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Last year the Bengals were considered a Top 5 DST and they finished as one. This year there's some concern they won't be as good following Michael Johnson's departure to Tampa Bay, coordinator Mike Zimmer's move to Minnesota and significant injuries to defensive tackle Geno Atkins and cornerback Leon Hall. Those guys should be back but will the pass rush remain effective? That might come down to how second-year end Margus Hunt and rookie Will Clarke pan out. And will new defensive coordinator Paul Guenther be as creative as Zimmer? These concerns are legitimate but a favorable schedule and a still-talented group that now includes rookie cornerback Darqueze Dennard make the Bengals DST worthy of selecting with a final-round pick in drafts this summer.