Second-year defensive tackle Brandon Thompson is perhaps being asked to do the impossible; replace Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who was placed on Injured Reserve Monday after suffering an ACL tear against the Miami Dolphins last Thursday.
Devon Still, who would normally backup Atkins as the three-technique defensive tackle, isn't expected to be ready this weekend against the Baltimore Ravens with a dislocated elbow. Free agent Christo Bilukidi signed a deal with Cincinnati on Monday but the league rejected it because Bilukidi's work permit had expired when he was released from Oakland in late October. Bilukidi is Canadian and requires a work permit to work in the States. Cincinnati signed Kheenston Randall earlier on Tuesday.
That leaves Thompson, for now, as the likely starter and while he's doing his best, he's not trying to become Geno 2.0.
"I don’t really see any pressure in it," Thompson said via Bengals. "I understand Geno’s a great player. I’m not going to try to come in and be Geno. I am who I am. I’m just going to work hard and do what I have to do."
"I have a quick first step, so we worked on taking advantage of that and using that, and how to play off it," Thompson said.
"There was so much, but just learning how to be a pro. Learning how to come in and take care of your body. You have the whole day now. Back in college you had to take care of school, you had classes; you have a lot of stuff you had to manage. But here, it’s just football. You have to learn how to watch more film, take care of your body and be an all-around player. Geno and Domata taught me so much about being more physical at the point of attack. Just being a more physical player. And that’s really helped me so far."