The Cincinnati Bengals have been crippled by injuries the last couple of seasons, and early on, they’re off to a rough start in 2021.
With Joseph Ossai, a premier rookie the franchise took in the third round, having suffered a knee injury that will likely end his season, the team has an opening on their first-team pass rush.
Sam Hubbard, D.J. Reader, Trey Hendrickson and another body will man the front line, and in three-man fronts, the team could send edge linebackers as well, helping put pressure on some big-name quarterbacks they’ll have to face this season.
That said, rookie Darius Hodge is doing his best not to only stay on the roster but to be that body the team needs to step up in a big way, especially after being one of the worst pass-rushing groups in the league last season.
“Hodge showed those traits. Every day we evaluate talent in our meetings and talk about what guys can do and what they can’t do. He showed us he could rush the passer,” defensive line coach Marion Hobby said via Cincinnati.com’s Charlie Goldsmith.
Hodge will get another shot at showing up on the big stage as the Bengals play in front of their home crowd for the first time this preseason today. In their action of the season, Hodge has a sack and a half and a tackle for a loss.
He didn’t quite have the same production against Washington, but he’s clearly setting himself apart as a favorite among coaches. The free-agent signing that went undrafted is looking to transition from a college defensive end, hoping to be more of an outside linebacker at the professional level.
Hodge led his collegiate team in sacks the last two seasons he was there, an impressive feat. He’s bringing that energy and skill to the Bengals, and Hobby is certainly not letting it go unnoticed.