The Cincinnati Bengals were faced with a tall task this offseason. After losing longtime starting safeties Jessie Bates III and Vonn Bell, many fans wondered if the safeties would be a weakness for the team in 2023.
The team had already invested a first-round draft pick in Dax Hill, so he was the easy choice to replace Bates. Hill has done an admirable job this season and even brings an element to the run defense that Bates didn’t.
Replacing Bell has been a different story. The Bengals signed veteran Nick Scott from the Los Angeles Rams and drafted rookie Jordan Battle out of Alabama to compete for that spot. Early in the season, Scott got the nod, but after an up-and-down first five games, we’ve started to see more of Battle.
In the second half of last week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, we saw more Battle than Scott. Per defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, we should expect to see both players on the field.
#Bengals DC Lou Anarumo on Nick Scott and rookie Jordan Battle: “Keep rotating those guys. See how it plays out. I could see them both playing going forward.”— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) October 11, 2023
Said Battle has shown some good things in practice to earn a chance.
Battle hasn’t been perfect, either. He has shown lapses in coverage at times but has overall looked solid when he gets on the field. As he continues to grow in the defense, Battle will likely improve and could push Scott for the starting role.
Some fans on social media have pushed for Battle to start, and if he does split time with Scott, a string of strong performances could lead to just that.
Who should be starting at strong safety going forward? Let us know in the comments!