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Bengals rookie report: Dax Hill comes up clutch

Hill’s range helped close the game.

NFL: SEP 29 Dolphins at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It was a special weekend for the Cincinnati Bengals’ 2020 and 2021 first-round picks. The 2022 first-rounder helped ensure it at the very end.

The third and final snap of Dax Hill’s day came as the deep safety in Cincinnati’s prevent coverage. The New Orleans Saints needed 17 yards to keep their hopes alive on fourth down, but Andy Dalton went for much more than that. He set his sights for Marquez Callaway, being guarded by Eli Apple, down the right sideline.

Callaway and Apple got entangled as the ball was coming down to earth, and Hill, who turned on the jets just as Dalton began his release, missed his first-career interception by mere inches as he dove over a falling Callaway. The ball hit the turf, and Cincinnati breathed a sigh of relief.

Had Apple been beaten cleanly and Callaway had a chance to go for the ball, Hill’s effort would’ve likely resulted in a pass breakup at the catch-point. That he put himself in an ideal spot to make a play on the ball is what the coaches care about. It’s why Pro Football Focus graded him out at 90.7 for the game. It’s why, for once, we get to lead with Hill in a rookie report.

Where on the field was Dax Hill?

  • Free safety: two snaps
  • slot corner: one snap

So kudos to the rook for his nice play. Let’s get to the others.

Cordell Volson

Slowly but surely, Volson is gelling into an offensive line that has indeed settled in. He allowed just two pressures on 45 pass-blocking reps in a pass-heavy game. Outside of a few minor miscues, he played a solid game, specifically in the second half when the offense was clicking more consistently. You’re not seeing very many quick losses nowadays, which is meaningful considering the season is not even two months old.

Volson’s made strides very quickly to become the ideal fifth lineman, but his hands are still too erratic at this time for him to be a consistent player. That comes up in both phases of the game.

Zach Carter

In the process of racking up over 200 rushing yards, the Saints made an example out of Carter multiple times in the game. The rookie defensive tackle was blown off his feet against double team after double team in the run game. Carter was already a spotty run defender, but this game was something else. He did flash his length in certain one-on-one situations, but the positive moments were far and few between. New Orleans unapologetically ran right at him for notable success.

It’s starting to feel like 2020 here a bit. The Bengals are quickly losing depth at defensive tackle as Josh Tupou is now slated to be sidelined with D.J. Reader. Carter, B.J. Hill, and Jay Tufele are all that remains at the position, so expect to see Tyler Shelvin get called up for this week. Carter is just too much of a liability against the run to be counted on against productive rushing attacks the Bengals will soon face in the Atlanta Falcons and Cleveland Browns.

Jeff Gunter

He doesn’t play defensive tackle, but Gunter is also going to miss some time after being carted off the field during warm ups. The extent of his injury is unknown, but considering his lack of playing time leading up to this week, don’t expect to see him on the field anytime soon.