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Bengals sign Tony McRae to practice squad; Sojourn Shelton cut to make room

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The Bengals make a cornerback change on the practice squad.

Indianapolis Colts v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

Tony McRae is back with the Cincinnati Bengals.

McRae has been signed to Cincinnati’s practice squad, the team announced Friday. To make room for him, cornerback Sojourn Shelton was released from the practice squad.

A first-year NFL player for 2017, McRae originally joined the Bengals in August 2016 as a college free agent. The 5'10", 185-pound cornerback played four seasons (2012-15) at North Carolina A&T and was a first-team All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference selection as a senior. ESPN had McRae pegged as the 85th-best cornerback prospect entering the 2016 NFL Draft.

During his junior season, McRae started all 12 games and made 62 total tackles with 46 of those unassisted, grabbed five interceptions and had 16 passes defended. He also returned 14 kickoffs for 360 yards (25.7 per return) and a touchdown, so the return game could be where he makes an impact as well.

In 2015, teams threw at McRae far less as he finished with only one interception. He did lead the Aggies with 55 tackles as a senior and also averaged 28.3 yards on kickoff returns. For his career, McRae appeared in 46 games over four years at NC A&T. He totaled 153 tackles, nine interceptions and 27 pass deflections.

All of his accomplishments weren’t enough to get him drafted. The Oakland Raiders signed him as a college free agent following the 2016 draft, but was released on May 16 before catching on with the Bengals in training camp. McRae made the Bengals' initial practice squad last September, but was released prior to Week 1.

The Bengals later added him back to the practice squad when tight end Matt Lengel was signed away by the New England Patriots. He then signed a futures contract with the Bengals following the completion of the season, landing him on the offseason roster.

McRae would go on to fight valiantly for the final cornerback spot this season, which was ultimately awarded to KeiVarae Russell. McRae spent time with the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad before being released recently. He will now work on the practice squad in hopes of getting called up to the 53-man roster if injuries should arise.

As for Shelton, he was a four-year starter for the Wisconsin Badgers, which included an Honorable Mention All-Big Ten freshman season in 2013, before being an undrafted free agent this year.

Shortly after the draft, Shelton signed with the Arizona Cardinals, where he’s been until final cuts. After being cut, he joined the Bengals’ practice squad, where he’s been for the past few months until being cut.