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Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard biding his time

"I go in every week the same, hopeful," Dennard said via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "If (Dre, Jones and Hall) play they play, I just do what I do on special teams. I just do whatever I can to help the team. Kind of just go with the flow."

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard is patiently biding his time.

Despite being a first-round pick during the 2014 NFL draft, Dennard has only played 99 defensive snaps in his young career -- he played 77 during his rookie season (including the playoffs) and only amassed 22 this year (and 21 of those snaps were during Cincinnati's 33-13 blowout win over the Oakland Raiders). With Dre Kirkpatrick, Adam Jones and Leon Hall playing the slot, finding time on the field has been difficult for Dennard.

Dennard told the Cincinnati Enquirer he feels hopeful but is working to make a meaningful impact wherever he's given the chance. "I go in every week the same: Hopeful," Dennard said via the Cincinnati Enquirer. "If they play they play, I just do what I do on special teams. I just do whatever I can to help the team. Kind of just go with the flow." Dennard is currently tied with Cedric Peerman for the team lead in special teams tackles (3).

Head coach Marvin Lewis is confident Dennard's time will come, deflecting a reporter's comment that he appears to be "in the back of the room."

"We need all these guys. His production in other areas is great, we have to keep it up," Lewis said during Monday's presser. "He's had a good couple weeks of practice since coming back from injury he suffered in training camp, and that's what you have to do. You have to go and be ready. That's the hardest part of the NFL, staying ready and working on your craft all the time. And when your number called, being ready to go and respond."

Dennard tweaked his groin during joint practices against the Giants and then aggravated it during the preseason opener against New York, crushing (already limited) opportunities for more playing time during the regular season. "It definitely was (bad timing)," Dennard said last month during rehabilitation. "Like I said last year, everything happens for a reason. I rehabbed, trying to be smart about it. It's a long season. Hopefully I'll get another shot."

The Enquirer suggests an opening in playing time could come due to Adam Jones' tweaked elbow, which occured during a return against the Ravens. Despite not missing any plays last week in Baltimore, Jones sat during Wednesday's practice. Kirkpatrick was also limited after having his arm in a sling due to a shoulder injury following Cincinnati's 28-24 win over the Ravens.

If Dennard's number is called, his head coach is confident that he'll step up.

"He'll play just as well as what we're playing, and I feel good about that. He's smart, and he's trained to play a bunch of different sports there, which is good," said Lewis.