New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham, who took part in joint practices against the Bengal this week in Cincinnati, was impressed by Cincinnati's contingent of cornerbacks. Specifically, he was impressed with Cincinnati's second-year cornerback Darqueze Dennard.
"I thought highly of (Darqueze) Dennard as well," Beckham said via NJ.com. "He seemed like he had a lot of potential, and he's going to be a very good cornerback coming up pretty soon." Beckham added that starting cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is "pretty good."
Dennard, selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft, only played 60 defensive snaps last season with mixed results. He was blamed, perhaps unfairly, for a touchdown against the Indianapolis Colts (a wide receiver screen where he was in the neighborhood), where he replaced Leon Hall, who departed with a strained back. Denard rebounded several weeks later with a solid performance, during his limited playing time against the New Orleans Saints.
Because Cincinnati's roster is loaded with talented cornerbacks, Dennard began expressing frustration for his lack of playing time, though he understood why. "It is kind of frustrating, but at the same time, everything happens for a reason. I'm big on that," Dennard said last November. "Of course everybody wants to come in and be the Deion Sanders and play a full game and have a number of interceptions, but that's not how it is. Everybody has different learning experiences. I just have to continue to control what I can and put all my faith in the man upstairs."
Due to several late-season ailments, the ageless cornerback Terence Newman began to decline. It led to a well-publicized fourth quarter rise for Kirkpatrick against the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. Cincinnati watched Newman, who joined Mike Zimmer in Minnesota this offseason, leave without much contest, allowing Dennard to move up the proverbial ladder. Organically, Adam Jones and Kirkpatrick are projected as opening day starters with Leon Hall covering the slot during nickel situations. Dennard figures to join into the fray when someone 1) needs a break or 2) is injured.