Today is Brandon Ghee’s 26th birthday. If he has the opportunity to blow out the candles on a birthday cake, his wish should be simple: An injury-free season.
As a rookie in 2010, Ghee suffered a concussion in a preseason game and then spent the last six games of the year on injured reserve due to a groin injury.
In 2011, a hamstring injury caused Brandon to miss much of training camp and he wasn’t added to the active roster until the 10th game of the season.
Then last year after earning rave reviews during May and June mini-camps, Ghee broke his wrist in early August, one week into training camp.
“It was a freak accident,” said Ghee. “I jumped up for a ball and fell on it wrong and it took me out for an entire season.
“My wrist is 100 percent now. I tape it as a precaution but I’m feeling really good right now and I’m just trying to get better.”
His coaches and teammates have noticed. Minor injuries to Leon Hall (thumb) and Adam Jones (calf) meant additional reps for the Bengals younger cornerbacks during the recent OTA period, and Ghee took advantage of the opportunity.
“He always looks good, honestly, when he’s able to be out there,” said Hall. “He’s one of those guys that definitely looks the part. He does well in almost everything that he does – the deal with him is just trying to stay healthy and get in the games.”
“He’s really instinctive,” said Andy Dalton. “He gets good jumps on the routes and he plays the ball well too. I thought he had a good camp.”
“I think Brandon has done a good job of picking up where he left off when he got injured last year – knowing what to do and being somebody that hopefully will compete to stay on the football team, compete to play, and give us great snaps if he does,” said Marvin Lewis.
“Everybody learns differently, but for me, I get better by playing,” Ghee told me. “The more reps I get, the better I’m going to be. I’m glad that I’m getting a lot of reps in this OTA period.”
The Bengals drafted Ghee in the third round of the 2010 draft out of Wake Forest after he was clocked at a sizzling 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. After being sidelined last season, he took advantage of the opportunity to add strength.
“The first thing I had to do was get healthy,” said Ghee. “Once I was healthy, I hit the weight room hard and did a lot of upper body and lower body. Now I’m back to being 100 percent and feel better than ever.
“I’ve gained about six or seven pounds and kept my speed. I just wanted to get a little bigger for playing inside in the nickel and trying to fit on the run (defense). I don’t like tight ends grabbing me, so that’s why I gained a little weight.”
The top three cornerbacks on Cincinnati’s depth chart are obvious: Hall, Jones, and Terence Newman. For Ghee, this is a crucial year to prove that he can provide quality depth at the position.
“Every year is important – I don’t care who you are,” Brandon told me. “But this is my fourth year here and it’s my contract year so I’m trying to do well and earn another contract.
“Last year was very disappointing and I had a whole year to think about it. I’m back now and I’m trying to bounce back and show my character. Everybody goes down, but how you come back is all that matters.”
“He has all of the physical abilities and tools, he’s smart enough, he understands what to do, and he just has to go out and do it, time in and time out,” said Coach Lewis.
“The potential is there, but in the league that only gets you so far,” said Hall. “Ghee has been in the NFL for a while, he kind of knows the ropes, and he knows that he has what it takes to be a good NFL player. He just has to stay healthy and transfer it to the field.”
“If he stays healthy, I think he’s going to help this team,” said Dalton.
That doesn’t seem like too much to wish for.
I’d love to hear from you at Dan.Hoard@Bengals.nfl.net
If you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard
And I’m on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dan.hoard.1