You often hear this phrase when playing any sport growing up: You practice the way you play.
Some teams don’t even have a No. 1 receiver, but the Bengals have not one, not two, but arguably three of them in Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd.
That’s a recipe for greatness for the Bengals cornerbacks. In order to play great against some of the best receivers in the league each week, you have to practice against them.
Cornerbacks Cam Taylor-Britt (CTB) and Mike Hilton appeared on the Bengals Beat Podcast with Kelsey Conway this offseason. They talk about some of the challenges there are when you go up against any of their team’s ace receivers.
“You’re not going to face anything better in the season,” CTB claimed, “so you might as well get it in right here. That’s the way you have to look at it.”
Mike Hilton explained how their cornerbacks are getting game-like practice in all day, every day.
“We’re getting Sunday work Monday through Saturday,” Hilton explained, “it brings the best out of us, and it brings the best out of them also; it’s good competition on both ends.”
They both explained and agreed that without one of them, the trio isn’t the same. They thrive together and complement each other more than anything.
Breaking down each receiver, CTB and Hilton both pointed out key aspects each one does that make them so tough to guard.
“He has a sneaky speed,” CTB explained about Ja’Marr, “he changes the speed in his route, and I don’t know how he does it, but it’s smooth,” he said, laughing. “Then he gives us tips on how to stay on him, so I appreciate that part.”
Tee Higgins is one of the taller receivers in the league, standing at 6’4”. According to Hilton, Tee takes advantage of that. “He is the best 50/50 guy in the league,” Hilton claimed. “Him getting out of his breaks is crazy for a guy 6’4”, 6’5”, Hilton said. “For him, a 50/50 ball is really an 80/20 ball.”
Most teams have that under-the-radar player who doesn’t quite have the star-studded ability that the other top receivers have; well that certainly isn’t Tyler Boyd.
“He’s the most sure-handed out of all three of them,” Hilton explained, “he does the dirty work and goes across the middle. He might not get as much love since he’s considered ‘the third receiver’ in our group, but I think even Ja’Marr and Tee would admit they can’t be who they are without TB inside.”
When people talk about having to double-team one of the league’s best receivers one week, they’re out of luck when they face the Bengals. They don’t have enough defenders to face each receiver.