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Hayden Hurst finally getting the opportunity to show he belongs

The Bengals tight end has gotten the short end of the stick in the NFL his entire career, but he has seemingly found a home in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Bengals v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Bengals needed to find a tight end to replace C.J. Uzomah this offseason when he left to join the New York Jets. It had been awhile since the team had been forced to address the position, and they eventually landed Hayden Hurst.

Thursday night was a great example of Hurst’s efforts to show he belongs in the NFL after a rocky start to his career. He was able to score the game sealing touchdown late in the game.

“It was the culmination of all the crap I’ve been through,” Hurst told Geoff Hobson. “To seal the game and having the confidence in me to make that call in the first place … It was surreal...”

“All I’ve ever asked for in the NFL is an opportunity. The coaching staff that is transparent and honest with me. I’m finally getting that.”

Hurst started his career by being drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in 2018. It seemed like he was destined to be Lamar Jackson’s go-to man since the Ravens drafted the quarterback after Hurst. However, it was Mark Andrews — also drafted in 2018 — who claimed that spot and has become one of the best tight ends in the league.

Hurst was then in line for a good opportunity to be the man with the Atlanta Falcons after being traded from Baltimore. However, a year after arriving, Atlanta drafted Kyle Pitts inside the top five, and Hurst was once again on the outside looking in.

Hurst has provided more of a weapon in the passing game than Uzomah had provided, though the former isn’t the same caliber of blocker.

Still, that ability to make a two-yard catch into a 10-yard gain is something this team desperately needed, and Hurst has provided plenty of energy breaking tackles and dragging defenders on those plays.

Hopefully his production continues to grow with the Bengals success.