ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 24: Terence Newman #41 of the Dallas Cowboys during the Thanksgiving Day game at Cowboys Stadium on November 24, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com writes this morning that offseason free agent acquisitions Terence Newman and Jason Allen will "play the bulk of the snaps in place of the rehabbing Leon Hall". Hall ruptured his Achilles in a Week 10 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers and was placed on Injured Reserve the following day, effectively ending his 2011 season. Hall still figures to be the team's top cornerback, but rushing back from an injury as serious as a ruptured Achilles could potentially be catastrophic. He needs adequate rehab time. Newman and Allen were presumably signed for just that purpose--to let Hall heal.
The Bengals secondary was hardly elite in 2011. Very few turnovers and very few big plays, but more than enough "Oh no..." moments every time the quarterback dropped back. This secondary needed improvement. Terence Newman and Jason Allen then should not just serve as placeholders, but as productive defensive backs on a projected good defense. Per Hobson, Newman concurs with those plans.
"This is a very good football team," said Newman, who has now been around them for a month during the conditioning. "As an older player...you want to win it all it before your career is over and if we can get this team to a first playoff win, to a second playoff win, and win the Super Bowl at some point, then we've done our job."
Assuming that the conjecture is true, one must now consider the situation of Nate Clements. Clements has only a few likely scenarios with Newman and Allen in the No. 2 cornerback position. One, Clements could start at cornerback should first round draft pick Dre Kirkpatrick or Hall not be ready to start come Week 1. This scenario is fully dependent on Kirkpatrick's ability to adjust from the college game to the pro game. Should he adjust well, he will presumably be the starter. Two, Clements could be moved to safety. Clements' ability to play safety is not well documented, yet there was speculation of a position change while Clements was with the San Francisco 49ers. But Clements never did play safety, and with Reggie Nelson under contract in Cincinnati, he isn't likely playing safety in 2012 either.
Another possibility regarding the future of Clements--a possibility which seems more likely given the Hobson report--is that he will be released, a topic previously discussed on Cincy Jungle.