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Dax Hill will see the field a lot, even with Jessie Bates back

The rookie safety has shown incredible versatility this preseason.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Cincinnati Bengals Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Before Jessie Bates returned to practice, the question was: can Dax Hill play free safety? This was a concern, as Hill hadn’t played the position since high school.

Well, he has done that exceptionally well in the preseason. “He barely played the position at Michigan, but he’s re-adapting and playing really well,” said our John Sheeran.

But Hill has also shown exceptional versatility overall, which is huge now that the All-Pro Bates has returned. Said Sheeran:

“He’s mostly at free safety, but he’s also in the slot. He’s in the second level. He’s even lined up as a blitzer off the edge. He’s out wide at cornerback a couple times. It doesn’t really matter where he is on the field right now. The game isn’t moving too fast for him, and clearly he’s the fastest player on the field when the Bengals are on defense.”

In the last game against the New York Giants, Hill showcased his versatility, excellent awareness, and ball skills. On a key stop on third and five, as Sheeran noted, Hill was lined up as a linebacker, recognized the flat route, and forces the running back to the sideline before adjusting and making a shoestring tackle.

Then, of course, he had his amazing interception when, as Sheeran points out, he was lined up as a free safety. “It was an overroute from the tight end, a little bit overthrown,” he said. “For him to read and react like that, from that deep alignment, going back to his high school days, like he did at the linebacker position as well, is very impressive.”

So with Bates back, how much of Hill can we expect to see?

Quite a bit, says Sheeran:

“Dax is showing enough where, regardless of Jessie Bates’ [return], he’s going to see the field a lot early in the season. He’s shown that he can handle multiple roles and be at multiple spots in the defense. They should have a plan to use him, Bates, and Vonn Bell at the same time, especially if they’re down at cornerback on account of the core injury to Cam Taylor-Britt. They lack depth at cornerback. They can have Dax Hill in the slot. He’s comfortable there. They can have him as an overhang defender. They can get creative with rotating these guys in and out and keep them fresh on defense so you don’t have Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt and Vonn Bell over working themselves.”

Watch the full analysis here:

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