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Bengals defense has pieces to overcome Tray Waynes’ injury

The corner signed a big deal and was set to start on the boundary. But with Darius Phillips is waiting in the wings, things aren’t as bad as they seem.

New England Patriots v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Bobby Ellis/Getty Images

The severity of Trae Waynes’ pectoral tear is still not for sure. What we do know is that he’ll miss the start of the season. And that has fans worried, who immediately think of one name:

Antonio Bryant.

Bryant, of course, was the Bengals’ last big splash in free agency before this offseason. In 2010, he signed a 4-year, $28 million deal but was released before even playing a game due to a bad knee. And the Bengals ended up going 4-12.

This, though, is different. Waynes will likely return later this season and should be 100% when he does. Furthermore, the defense should be able to hold the fort until he’s healthy.

That’s because of one Darius Phillips, a fifth-round pick out of Western Michigan in 2018. There is not a big dropoff from Waynes to Phillips in terms of coverage. And the latter is three years younger with much less time on the field, meaning, he has more upside.

Though a bit smaller at 5’10”, Phillips has good ball skills, according to his defensive coordinator, Lou Anarumo. The real difference may be in tackling, Waynes’ forte. Still, the Bengals will be a lot stronger in that department with the additions of D.J. Reader, Vonn Bell, Josh Bynes, and the rookie linebackers.