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Bengals need Cam Sample to step up early in 2023

With an injury to Joseph Ossai, the young defensive lineman needs to step up as a rotational pass-rusher for a stout defensive unit.

Be it through free agency or the NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals have invested heavily in their defensive line. While relying on longtime veteran Sam Hubbard, the team has added high-profile investments in the form of Trey Hendrickson, Myles Murphy, D.J. Reader, B.J. Hill, Joseph Ossai, and others over the past three offseasons.

Cam Sample is another player the team likes, as he’s kicked inside on passing downs from time to time, as well as developing as an edge defender. While initially looked at as a supplemental player towards the bottom of the edge depth chart, recent developments have placed increase importance on Sample.

Cam Sample

  • Height: 6’3”
  • Weight: 272 pounds
  • Age: 23 years
  • College: Tulane
  • Hometown: Snellville, GA
  • Experience: Third year

Cap Status

Sample is in the third year of a four-year rookie deal. His 2023 cap number is $1,137,037, accounting for just 0.5% of the Bengals’ total salary cap (per OverTheCap).

Background and Outlook

After coming to Cincinnati in the fourth round, Sample has had a winding round of development. While the Bengals haven’t necessarily needed him to be a star backup, that may need to change for at least the first couple of games this season.

As hinted at above, Ossai is dealing with a high ankle sprain that may be taking him out of the first few games. This propels Sample into a higher profile role right away, and with two division games headlined by two dynamic quarterbacks to kick off the Bengals’ season, he’ll need to be on top of his game.

From a concerning standpoint, Sample has only notched 4.5 sacks, six tackles for loss, and 12 quarterback hits in two seasons (including seven postseason games). But, on the optimistic side, growth has been seen from year to year, and he’s entering that oh-so-important (developmentally-speaking) third season.

If he can be productive before Ossai is back and then continue to parlay productive rotational snaps after No. 58 returns, that will make the Bengals’ pass rush a lethal necessity. Remember Wallace Gilberry? If Sample can prove to be a similarly effective guy with that versatility, he’ll be a great tool in Lou Anarumo’s arsenal.