Both sides of the ball showed out in front of a crowd of more than 7,000 fans for “Family Dey” on Day seven of Bengals training camp. One player who looked particularly great was second-year safety Jessie Bates III, who looks as natural playing centerfield for the Bengals’ defense as he did last year.
Bates is already one of Cincinnati’s best defenders, but he’s far from done growing as a player. His new defensive coordinator, Lou Anarumo, knows that better than most.
“So far, so good. He’s got a ways to go, but he’s working hard,” Anarumo told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. “He’s got a natural instinct for the football, but he’s a young player, now. He’s a second-year guy and he’s learning every day.”
That natural instinct for the football is what got Bates drafted in the second round and starting Week 1 last year for a defense that already had stability at the safety position. Bates provided the Bengals with an asset they haven’t had since Reggie Nelson donned the orange and black a few years back.
“His ball skills have been terrific,” Anarumo said. “He’s got to make sure he continues to command. He and Shawn working together. Communication. We’d like to see that get better. But he can play the football.”
Following a promising rookie season, a sophomore slump may be probable for a lesser player, but Bates seems to be in the right mindset set by his new coach.
“I talk to Lou a lot,” Bates said. “He’s got a high ceiling for me and I have a high ceiling for myself and I appreciate him just trying to push me. He’s coached a lot of good safeties. He knows my ability, my potential. He wants me to be best me I can be and I’m excited for that.”
We’re excited too. The class of 2018 appears to have been a goldmine for defensive backs, and the Bengals got one of the better ones in Bates.