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First-round rookie Darqueze Dennard makes debut on defense

Dennard, who replaced Leon Hall late in the third quarter, recorded a quarterback sack. Despite the garbage time that he played, it was invaluable experience.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Already reaching blowout proportions when the game had reached the 1:40 mark in the third quarter, the Titans had first down from their own 25-yard line. Safety, Reggie Nelson played off the line of scrimmage while Jake Locker was going through his pre-snap cadence. Cincinnati showed Cover One initially with first-round rookie Darqueze Dennard covering the slot and safety George Iloka playing center field.


Prior to the snap, Iloka split out right and Reggie Nelson wentabout 20 yards to his left, while Adam Jones and Terence Newman moved off the ball, showing Cover Four.

...and when Locker took the snap, Dennard blitzed.


With Devon Still taking on the left guard and Wallace Gilberry forcing the attention of Tennessee's left tackle, Dennard (hiding behind Gilberry) wrapped around the offensive line. And thanks to the coverage forcing Locker to hold into the football, Dennard dropped the quarterback for a three-yard loss.


When asked how excited he was to record his first sack... "Just to play on this great team with a lot of great players, and the defense is good as well," said Dennard. "Just sliding in a couple plays at the end is cool."

He did.

Cincinnati's coaching staff elected to pull Leon Hall late in the third quarter, citing veteran rest. They inserted Dennard by that point in the blowout who played 16 snaps through the fourth quarter. Pro Football Focus placed a 13-yard reception against Dennard, but it wasn't. Dennard was in coverage when Locker dropped the football down to Dexter McCluster, who gained 13 yards. Dennard, who was closet to the running back, made the tackle.


Dennard was covering Kendall Wright with 14 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter and narrowly allowed a significant gain. Thankfully Locker's pass was overthrown.


In fairness to Dennard, it appeared that he was looking for outside help.

It's good that Cincinnati finds way to get Dennard on the field, even if the team is blowing out the opponent -- at least a rookie cornerback will see a lot of passes. Until then, Dennard is looking for his first interception.

"When that time comes, it probably is going be a lot more exciting (than the sack)," said Dennard.