Leon Hall will be a familiar face for the Bengals and their fans when the team travels to New York for a Monday Night Football clash with the Giants. Hall opted to sign with the Giants during the offseason, though he was reportedly offered a deal from the Bengals in the days before leaving for New York. The Bengals let Hall sit on the free agent market for months after he hit free agency for the first time after nine years spent in Cincinnati.
Playing time was figured to be the reason why Hall would choose New York over the familiar confines of Cincinnati, but, Hall hasn't seen all that much playing time with the Giants. He has started two games while playing in seven and for the first time in his entire pro football career, Hall was a healthy scratch when the Giants and Eagles faced off in Week 9.
This season, Hall has 22 tackles, 1 sack and 1 pass defended. Comparatively, Giants rookie cornerback Eli Apple has played in 6 games with 3 starts, including Sunday's game during which Hall was inactive. Apple has 19 tackles, and 3 passes defended.
“I thought I’ve played decent,” Hall said of his play so far this season. “I missed tackles that I would like to take back. Obviously some plays that I would like to take back. Definitely, a lot of room for improvement.”
NFL Week 10: Bengals vs Giants Thursday practice and injury report
The Bengals are pretty healthy heading into Week 10 but one defensive starter sat out from practice with an injury while a number of other defensive players were limited.
So, what if Hall were to be inactive against the Bengals?
“I haven’t even thought about that yet,” the veteran cornerback said on Thursday. “It would be unfortunate but at the end of the day, going into this week, I knew that was a possibility. It would suck for sure. Just as much as it did last week. It would obviously be nice to be out there and make some plays, but we’ll see what happens and how the week pans out.”
Giants coaches told the media, and Hall, that the reason he was inactive was so that more safeties could be active. Hall has also played safety for the Giants. And as the New York media isn’t known for being easy on players, Hall was asked if he believed the coaches’ reasoning for why he was inactive last week.
“I really took it for what they told me,” he said. “I would hope they wouldn’t lie to me. They’ve been pretty honest since I’ve been here. I took what they said for face value.”
Whether or not Hall plays in Week 10, his knowledge of the Bengals will certainly be something the Giants look to take advantage of this week. When asked how to successfully shut down A.J. Green, Hall had some thoughts on the way other teams have been successful at just that.
“You have to switch it up with him. You can’t just leave him alone. With all the great receivers, I think that’s part of the recipe for success. You can’t just keep rolling up to him because he’ll figure that out,” Hall said. “You can’t just play Cover 2 or Cover 1. You have to have a variety. At the end of the day, it really starts with the quarterback. You want to keep him on his toes, keep him guessing and hesitant to affect some of those throws.”
Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. plans to get a better idea of the Bengals’ playbook from his new teammate in New York.
“I was talking to him today,” Beckham said of Hall. “We were just talking and trying to get the inside scoop. Just what he would know. I’ll definitely find out more from him this week. A guy like that, who’s been there and played over there for a while, I’m definitely going to get into his playbook and asking him what he knows and what he doesn’t know.”
Hall was one of the Bengals’ all-time great cornerbacks and a key contributor for nearly a decade in Cincinnati. No matter the circumstances of how he left of why he chose the Giants to sign with this season, there’s bound to be a great deal of emotion when it comes to Hall facing his former team on Monday Night Football, one of the NFL’s biggest stages.
“I haven’t really dealt with that yet,” Hall said of the emotions involved in facing his former team. “I think maybe once Sunday, Monday comes around, we’ll see how that goes. I don’t see it being too much of a problem for me. It’ll be nice to see some of my friends.”