It's late September.
So that must mean that Chris Crocker is making his annual visit.
According to Geoff Hobson with Bengals.com, Crocker is "believed" to be visiting Cincinnati on Tuesday as the team plans to host "another round of tryouts for free-agent defensive backs." Along with being a veteran safety, Crocker has spent time in Cincinnati's defense as a cornerback in schemes that required five defensive backs.
Cincinnati's defensive backs situation is precarious right now. Brandon Ghee has been undergoing concussion protocols for a month and hasn't played yet this season (he can't be released until he's cleared or there's an injury settlement). Dre Kirkpatrick sat with a hamstring against the Green Bay Packers. Leon Hall suffered a pulled hamstring on Sunday during a block on Terence Newman's fumble return for a touchdown. His status is "partly cloudy", according to Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.
At this point, Newman, the recently signed Curtis Marsh and promoted Chris Lewis-Harris are the only healthy cornerbacks, along with Adam Jones.
Don't expect Adam Jones to miss time from his latest arrest. In fact, there's a greater concern regarding his assault trial that begins Oct. 7 and there's no telling if the league will suspend him, or for how long, based on the verdict. The timing couldn't have been worse for the Bengals and Jones, who had his best game since he's been in Cincinnati, according to defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.
"That may be his best game he’s played since he’s been here. He’s played some good games, but that may have been best one," Zimmer said via Coley Harvey with ESPN.
Crocker returned last year on Sept. 27, after missing the first three games as an unsigned free agent. He played three days after signing a one-year deal and posted the first interception for a Bengals defense that recorded none at that point. Crocker wound up playing 13 games, starting nine, and finished the season tied for the team lead in interceptions (3) while recording 42 tackles, a fumble recovery and three passes defensed.
If Crocker returns, it'll be his sixth season with the Bengals after posting seven quarterback sacks, six interceptions, 24 passes defensed and 230 tackles.
Second-year safety George Iloka recently praised Crocker for his study habits, helping him grow from his rookie year to this season, where he's started every game and played all but one defensive snap.
"I’ll be the first to admit that last year I didn’t grasp this defense as well as I needed to in order to contribute," said Iloka. "I didn’t realize that until I saw Crocker. You can’t just rely purely on your athletic ability as this level – especially at the safety position in this defense. You have to know the checks, and you have to be consistent because you’re not just playing for yourself out there.
"What really made me gravitate towards him was the fact that he got an interception in his first game back. He was basically on the couch and didn’t go to training camp or anything. It’s not like he did anything spectacular – he just did his job. He made the right reads and did the things that Coach Zimmer taught him and the pick came right to him. I said, ‘I’d better start watching this dude and picking his brain in order to learn as much as I can.’"