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Markus Bailey becoming an impact player in Bengals defense

The second-year linebacker put together maybe his best game to date in Week 18.

NFL: DEC 19 Bengals at Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

As the 2021 season has progressed, the Cincinnati Bengals’ linebacker depth has been tested. An injury to Logan Wilson in Week 13 followed by a torn ACL for Joe Bachie against Denver in Week 15 has lead to a handful of practice squad call-ups and lesser known players getting action.

In Cincinnati’s Week 18 game against the Cleveland Browns, Bailey played more due to starters resting than injury, but you would have to assume Bachie would’ve gotten those reps if healthy. Nevertheless, the second year man out of Purdue played the bulk of the snaps and made an impact on the game, even in a losing effort.

At the end of the first half, Cleveland was in prime position to score a touchdown, go up 14 points and get the ball back after half. As Case Keenum looked to deliver a pass into the end zone, Bailey got a hand on it, leading to a tipped-ball interception by Mike Hilton:

While the outcome of the game didn’t go in the Bengals’ favor, Bailey stopped it from getting out of hand before halftime.

In Bailey’s tenure with the Boilermakers, he was always seen as a very talented prospect, but a knee injury late into his senior season lead to many questions leading into the 2020 NFL Draft.

He has filled in for both Wilson and Germaine Pratt in the last quarter of the season and is starting to find his comfort zone at the professional level.

Finishing the day with seven solo tackles (11) total and the pass deflection leading to a turnover, Bailey could be an important piece if Wilson’s nagging shoulder injury becomes a problem.

As the focus turns to the postseason, here’s to a healthy Wilson, healthy Pratt and Bailey there with the confidence to step in and make plays.