Bengals’ strong safety position up for grabs?

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The Bengals have a surefire starter at free safety in Reggie Nelson.

The picture at strong safety is less clear.

According to Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Bengals have split first-team reps between veterans George Iloka and Taylor Mays and rookie Shawn Williams early in camp.  Reedy reports that Mays has generally been the first safety to get 11-on-11 snaps of the trio, but all are getting their chances.

“They have a good competition. Each guy is trying to earn their spot and its good,” Bengals defensive backs coach Mark Carrier told the Enquirer.

Mays, 25, started the 2012 season-opener at Baltimore at strong safety, but the Bengals explored other options thereafter, giving Jeromy Miles and Nate Clements looks at the position before finally giving the job to Chris Crocker for the bulk of the regular season. Clements and Crocker are unrestricted free agents, which would seem to signal the Bengals would like to go younger at this spot.

Iloka, a second-pro from Boise State, appeared in seven games as a reserve as a rookie. Williams is the new face, a third-round pick from Georgia, a school the club has drafted from with great success in the Marvin Lewis era.

This is an important season for Mays, who’s in the last year of his contract. A breakthrough season could be a career-changer for him.  However, the Enquirer‘s report on the strong safety reps thus far would seem to indicate he’s one of multiple options right now.

12 responses to “Bengals’ strong safety position up for grabs?

  1. I think its Williams job to lose at this point, this guy wasn’t great in college but I think hes got the potential to be a solid starter in the pros

  2. IMO, Shawn Williams was underrated at Georgia. The Bengals got an excellent player in the 3rd round.

    Williams will end up being one of the better safeties in the NFL.

  3. Williams could be solid but I really think it was a major error to not make a serious run at Dashon Goldson in free agency. The Bengals had the money and in this league you have a very small window to win

    Lets be honest, Pittsburgh is somewhat down (albeit still a threat) and aren’t going to be down for very long. Baltimore has several question marks coming off their big SB win. The North is very winnable for the Bengals (at least on paper) — you have to go all out and pull all the stops out to get to the SB

    Football isn’t like baseball where you have slow and steady growth, you have a chance you take it and rebuild after your 3 year run

  4. @737driver69 you’re lame bro go away, as far as safties i say it goes to iloka or williams, mays has had 3 years and doesn’t seem to get the transition from college to nfl, the bengals have drafted well out of georgia and williams was a hard nosed defender for them he was also their leader, i think he was sorely underrated coming out into the draft, hopefully him and iloka will make a nice combo at ss for the bengals.

  5. @foosball1984

    Hey I may be lame “BRO”, but please learn how to spell correctly, apparently GED is not a requirement for Bungels fan base…ie…”safties” = safeties & definitely need some English language

  6. Taylor Mays has every physical tool he needs to be an NFL Strong Safety….. except a brain. Dude is even too stupid to play football. Iloka is an unknown and Williams is a rookie, albeit a promising one. This might be another of those situations where their special teams value determines their roster spot.

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