The Cincinnati Bengals knew they needed to enhance their defense this past offseason.
They went out and signed nose tackle D.J. Reader and linebacker Josh Bynes while also drafting another linebacker, Logan Wilson, in the third round. Those additions have helped, but what has allowed them to keep progressing as a defense is the tenacity from free safety Jessie Bates III.
In his third season in the NFL, Bates is having a breakout year alongside of offseason addition Vonn Bell. Through four games, Bates has played in over 95 percent of the team’s snaps. He’s totaled 32 tackles which puts him on track for a career high 128.
For that and his clutch ball production, Bates joins Bengals’ special teamer Cethan Carter on Pro Football Focus’ first-quarter All-Pro team. Here’s what PFF’s Sam Monson wrote about Bates and Carter:
S JESSIE BATES III, CINCINNATI BENGALS
“Every time you look up, Jessie Bates is making plays for the Cincinnati defense. He hasn’t been perfect, but on a defense without a lot of help, he has multiple games with more than one pass breakup from his safety position and has at least one defensive stop in each outing. His range from the deep middle of the field has been exceptional, even if it resulted in him getting flagged for an extremely harsh unnecessary roughness call on one occasion for what looked like a perfectly placed shoulder-to-shoulder hit. Bates has been a real bright spot on Cincinnati’s defense.”
ST CETHAN CARTER, CINCINNATI BENGALS
“With already over 100 special teams snaps to his name, Cethan Carter has been one of the busiest special teams players, as well as one of the best.”
The most notable figure for Bates so far this season is his five passes defended. He’s yet to top ten in a single season, so he’s clearly on his way to make sure the secondary doesn’t allow big-time plays. At just 23 years of age, Bates has a bright future ahead of him, hopefully one in which he stays in the Queen City.
Carter recently saw his snaps on offense increase thanks to C.J. Uzomah landing on the Reserve/Injured list, but his work on special teams remains his greatest asset. He has three tackles thus far.