CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 23: Taylor Mays #26 of the Cincinnati Bengals makes a tackle against Tom Crabtree #83 of the Green Bay Packers during a preseason NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium on August 23, 2012 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Despite the fact that Jeromy Miles has surged to the top of many charts throughout Cincinnati (or Bengaldom), Taylor Mays remains the favorite to start the regular season opener against the Baltimore Ravens. Jeromy Miles' 15 tackles is tied for third on the team, he's intercepted a pass and forced a fumble. Additionally Miles has played 22 games for the Bengals, including all 16 during Cincinnati's playoff run last year on one of the league's top special teams units. It's a hard argument to ignore and we'd be wise to keep the discussion up for debate -- or we become one of those boring sites that force you into our perspective because we're always right (and by always right, we actually mean rarely).
At this point we think it's Mays' job. If Marvin Lewis has hinted anything this preseason about the competition, it's his overzealous obsession with an aggressive hard-hitting safety than can punish any living soul that gets in his way. When asked about some of his hits that's hurt his own players, Lewis simply responded with a perspective that he'd rather have Mays being aggressive, while taking a peak out of his helmet every once in awhile to see what he's hitting. It's like the difference between Darth Vader and Marvin the Paranoid Android.
After watching Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu and more recently T.J. Ward (did you see the hit on Jordan Shipley), there's always been a desire for the Bengals to match those hard-hitting attributes. Mays might not be an ideal safety, especially in coverage, but his tendency to hit people (aka, rocket ship their asses straight to hell) will benefit the Bengals. It will hurt, both physically with some laundry. But isn't there a part of you that kind of wishes that this team had a true enforcer, someone that not only knocks the snot out of someone's nose, but demolecularizes the snot?
Jeromy Miles has been a fantastic safety during the preseason. He's going to make the roster and help solidify special teams into another top-notch unit, especially in coverage. And when the Bengals need a coverage safety in nickel, Miles figures to take a significant number of those snaps. It very well could be a rotation of safeties this year.