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Interview: Markus Bailey is ready for the season to begin

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The rookie linebacker told us that he’s fully healthy and eager to face Lamar Jackson.

Ohio State v Purdue Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Markus Bailey has what Bengals fans crave — big-time playmaking ability at the linebacker position.

The rookie is a smart player who can anticipate the spot to which a ball will be thrown or the hole through which a ball carrier will run. As a result, he’s constantly in the right position, making it impossible to not notice his presence on the football field.

Bailey, a personable young man with a great sense of humor and strong social media game, was an absolute delight to interview. We chatted with him about his preparation and health; the advantage of facing Joe Burrow in practice; and how he’s looking forward to facing Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens twice a year after the star QB got the better of him on one specific play in college.

We also talked about his recovery from an ACL tear, his second during his college career. Bailey, to the delight of Bengals fans everywhere, said he’s ahead of his rehab and has been ready to go since his virtual Pro Day in April. The 23-year-old has been training hard at the Spot Athletics in Columbus, Ohio.

“I’ve been getting a lot stronger, getting a lot faster, getting a lot more explosive,” he said.

Bailey - who has a Master’s degree in tech leadership and innovation - is a student of the game and deeply motivated to demonstrate that he deserved to go much higher than the seventh round. He is thankful for the opportunity the Bengals gave him but not at all complacent.

“I’m very aware that the situation I’m in is better than a lot of other people, and I’m very grateful for that,” he said. “But I still have bigger aspirations.”

Bailey says he is still building connections with teammates despite the current limitations. He told us about a team video competition during the virtual offseason, where players would submit videos and coaches would judge which were the funniest. He also said that Burrow’s strong personality has already become evident for him.

“He’s very soft-spoken, to himself, but you can tell he’s about his business,” Bailey said. “He has a high football IQ and knows what’s going on at all times.”

Bailey said he’s excited to compete against the number one overall pick in practice in order to improve his own game.

You can watch the full interview here:

Or listen to the podcast below: