The Cincinnati Bengals opened the preseason on Friday night, beating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 23-12 in Paul Brown Stadium. At the half, the Bengals were down 9-6 and had to rely heavily on the defense in the second half to keep the Buccaneers from taking the game away from them. A large part of that effort came from rookie defensive back Demetrious Cox who signed with the Bengals as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State following the draft in May.
Cox first saw action late in the third quarter of Friday’s game. The first play we’ll look at is a tackle on a run play where Cox limits Buccaneers running back Jeremy McNichols to a one-yard gain. In the clip below, you can see Cox pursue the running back well, moving toward the line and then turn McNichols back inside toward help. Cox does well to help limit McNichols to only a yard here on first-and-10.
Two plays later, on third and nine Cox is on the outside perimeter one-on-one with Bernard Reedy who runs a solid out route right at the first down marker. Cox sticks right on Reedy’s hip, and actually had solid coverage, but the great throw from Ryan Griffin was right on the money and Tampa Bay picked up the third down. Also on this play, and this has nothing to do with Cox, check out the great pressure from defensive end Chris Smith. Though, like Cox who was unable to break up the pass even with great coverage, Smith’s motion toward the quarterback didn’t do enough to negatively impact the play for the Buccaneers who converted their third down into a first down.
Finally, we’ll look at Cox’s interception, which was the only turnover of the game for the Bengals. Playing deep in the last zone, the overthrown ball was too much for Walker and Cox did a good job of tracking, locating and getting underneath the errant pass for the pick.
Cox also gets up quickly and gets back down the field, showing some shifty moves on the return of 37 yards, which completely flipped the field for the Bengals’ offense. Had Cox stayed down, the offense would have been on their own 10 yard line, but instead they were outside of their own 30 yard line.
If Cox continues to play like this, there could be room for him on the Bengals’ 53-man roster, or at least the practice squad. Having a guy like Cox who is not afraid to defend the run while still being able to locate the ball could provide a lot of depth for a secondary that’s faced a few injuries in training camp.