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Hayden Hurst says he’s found his home with Bengals

“I feel like I’ve gone to heaven coming here.”

Miami Dolphins v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals are getting passionate play from tight end Hayden Hurst.

Now on his third team in five years, Hurst is giving his all while performing on a one-year prove-it deal in Cincinnati. The 29-year-old scored his first touchdown for the Bengals this week against the Miami Dolphins as he’s slowly, but surely, finding his role within the offense.

After just four games, Hurst appears more comfortable than he’s ever been in the NFL.

“Just from where I was last year, kind of struggling, not enjoying football, to coming here and being presented an opportunity,” Hurst said after Thursday’s win. “I was telling the guys I feel like I’ve gone to heaven coming here. It’s just incredible. Coaches value me, I’m being used the right way. It’s taken five years, but I think I’ve finally found a home.”

That’ll make you tear up a bit.

Hurst—a former first-round pick—was previously in two offenses that relegated him out of the starting tight end spot. The inverse has occurred in Cincinnati. Injuries to Drew Sample and Mitchell Wilcox in the past two months have only made Hurst’s presence more valuable. His box score production may not show it so obviously, but his role has only grown since the season began.

And, like the rest of the offense, there’s more than Hurst can do going forward. His average depth of target through four weeks is a measly 4.3 yards, and nearly 60% of his total yardage has come after the catch. A fully developed Bengals offense should have Hurst being used vertically. Those opportunities should come eventually.

For now, it seems like Hurst is more than content with where he’s at.