New Bengals cornerback KeiVarae Russell is getting used to life in Cincinnati with his new team.
After being shockingly cut by the Chiefs last week, Cincinnati claimed Russell off of waivers in an also-surprising move. Even with the Bengals seemingly set at cornerback, they saw something in Russell they did not want to let get away from them.
Needless to say, last week was a wild one for Russell, who talked about his situation with the Cincinnati Enquirer.
"It was a sleepless night, definitely," Russell said of the day Kansas City waived him. "I didn’t know where the hell I was going to live, man."
When Russell made it to waivers, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis saw a prospect he felt could help his team while also giving Josh Shaw the chance to play safety more.
"He’s a prospect that we felt like had an opportunity to be an NFL corner," Lewis said. "Right now, we took the opportunity to add him to the football team. Cornerback is a position where you need players. There’s not a lot of guys hanging around that step in and play NFL corner productively. We’ve been fortunate. We like to add those guys. It gives us more flexibility for Josh Shaw if we add another guy like that."
It's still a mystery why the Chiefs were willing to cut a player they spent a third-round pick on this year. The 22-year-old previously explained to the Kansas City Star that he had trouble getting comfortable with the team's defensive scheme. Whatever the case, Russell is adamant that he doesn't know why the Chiefs cut him beyond it being a football decision.
"That’s how the league is," Russell said. "It wasn’t a character issue. They can eliminate that. I never got into it with any coaches or anything. It had nothing to do with anything. I wasn’t playing bad. It was just a football decision."
Whatever happened with the Chiefs, that's in the past now, and Russell feels confident he'll last with the Bengals.
"I’m back on a team, I’m confident with this, that I’ll be a little longer," Russell said. "I’m confident. We’ll see, but I think the Bengals showed a lot of love in the last couple days, and I feel I can get on the field here. I don’t know when that’s going to be, but I feel if I work hard enough going against these great receivers we have, the great quarterback we have, the way the defensive system is, we need guys."
Prior to the NFL, Russell enjoyed a standout career with Notre Dame that ended on a down note. He finished 2015 with 60 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, one sack, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and four pass deflections in 11 games. But, he suffered a broken right tibia that cost him the final two games of his senior season.
While that led to him missing the NFL Scouting Combine, Russell had a good showing at his Pro Day before hearing his named called fairly early in the NFL draft. While it may be several weeks before we actually see Russell active in a game, it sounds like he is fitting right in with his new home.
First legit practice today with #WhoDey was good! I absolutely love what these boys do here and what the coaches teach..I can see success— Keivarae Russell (@Keivarae1) September 21, 2016
ESPN 1530’s James Rapien spoke with Russell following Wednesday’s practice, which you can listen to here: