Brandon Ghee obviously knows that he’s battling to earn a roster spot as he enters his third season with the Bengals. But that’s not how the 25-year-old cornerback looks at his situation.
“I’m not just competing for a spot – I’m trying to play,” said Ghee. “I’m trying to earn a starting position on this team.”
The Bengals currently have six cornerbacks that were first-round draft picks on their roster, but the former third-round selection out of Wake Forest has been earning strong reviews during OTAs and this week’s mandatory minicamp.
“Ghee is out there competing every day and he’s one of the best corners that we have here,” said Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green. “I feel like this year is going to be his year. I feel like he’s healthier and he’s playing fast.”
Ghee’s first two NFL seasons have been hampered by injuries, including a concussion as a rookie and a hamstring injury last year. That helps explain why he’s only been on the field for 13 snaps at cornerback in his first two seasons.
“He’s been in that redshirt mode unfortunately because of injuries,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “He obviously has had a good offseason training before he came back to be with us, and he’s really had an outstanding nine practices.”
“I feel like I’ve been doing a good job but there’s always room for improvement,” said Ghee. “More interceptions, more plays on the ball…I just need to keep getting better every day. I’ve been in the film room and working on technique in the offseason and now I think that I’m ready.”
Ghee ran a 4.39 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and is one of the most athletic cornerbacks on the Bengals roster. He also has good size at 6’0”, 193 pounds. But “measurables” only get you so far in the NFL.
“The reason why he’s here is we see the potential,” said defensive backs coach Mark Carrier. “Now – especially going into your third year which is kind of the year where you sink or swim – this is his chance to blossom.”
“Obviously if you’re here, you have the talent to play in the NFL,” said wide receiver Andrew Hawkins. “As you get more comfortable, you get more confidence and I think that’s what they’re seeing in Brandon Ghee. That’s part of the maturation of an NFL football player. He’s had an incredible off-season. He looks great and hopefully he can continue to build on that momentum.”
“I needed to learn a little bit of everything,” said Ghee. “Some maturity, some technique…there’s a learning curve. I got hurt my first few years and it kind of set me back, but now I’m 100% healthy and I think I’m around the curve now.”
And while there is no hitting during OTAs and the current minicamp, Brandon is trying to show that he’s ready to contribute.
“Regardless of what it’s called, this is the beginning of camp,” Ghee told me. “We know that we get a little break (before training camp in July), but this is camp and you have to show what you’ve got out there.
“I’m trying to play for respect. We have a lot of guys here who are competing – we have first round picks and a lot of talent on this team but I’m just worried about myself right now. I’ve been waiting for two years and I’ve been preparing so now I’m ready to go.”
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