Devon Still back on Bengals roster
The Bengals are staying in-house to sign that 53rd man.
Defensive tackle Devon Still signed back to the Bengals active roster Wednesday morning as the Bengals began preparations for Sunday's Paul Brown Stadium 1 p.m. opener against the Falcons.
The signing came a day after the Bengals announced Still's No. 75 jersey went on sale in the Bengals Pro Shop with all proceeds benefitting Cincinnati Children's Hospital & Pediatric Cancer Care and set a one-day record for sales.
Still went on the practice squad last week with a hamstring injury, but circumstances have sped up his return to the roster.
Admitting he couldn't "give football 100 percent," as he deals with four-year-old daughter Leah's Stage 4 cancer, Still transitioned to the practice squad after the Bengals cut him to get to the final 53 on Aug. 30.
"I try to always look at the positive of things," Still said last week. "Of course if I came back out here I wanted to make the roster but I have a lot of stuff going on right now that I can't give football 100 percent. I have many conversations with them and they have seen I can't do it right now. They could have just washed their hands completely of it. 'We don't care what's going on in his personal life we just want people who can care 100 percent on football, that's what they pay us to do.'
But since this is the NFL, things change rapidly.
"We have an open roster spot, and this is the best football move we can make to fill it," said head coach Marvin Lewis in a news release "We think Devon is ready to rejoin our line rotation and be productive. It already was stated that a big reason Devon opened on the practice squad was that he couldn't fully focus on football this preseason. He had to take care of his daughter (Leah, four, diagnosed with cancer). But Devon has told us he feels ready to contribute now, so it's the right move at the right time. And we've told Devon he can still be afforded the personal time he needs to attend to his daughter's care." Rookie cornerback Darqueze Dennard's hip tightened up late last week and they had to go to the practice squad to sign cornerback Onterio McCalebb to help the Bengals fill Dennard's gunner position on the punt coverage team in last Sunday's 23-16 victory over the Ravens.
The odd man out was Christo Bilikudi, the guy that beat out Still for the roster. The Bengals cut McCalebb Monday and put him back on the practice squad Wednesday. By then Bilikudi had been claimed by the Ravens and Kevin Vickerson, the former Broncos defensive tackle who worked out for the Bengals last week, signed with the Chiefs this week.
The Bengals still have the same kind of regard they for Still when they made him a second-round pick in 2012 when he came out of Penn State as the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. With his career slowed by his daughter's battle and his own set of health issues since he came into the league, they're giving him time to get back on track.
It remains to be seen if he'll be active Sunday. Another roster spot may be open this week if they decide to put Tyler Eifert on injured reserve-recall with what is thought to be a dislocated elbow. If they do that, and that situation appears to be in flux, it would have to be assumed the player replacing him is going to be inactive.
The Bengals played just seven defensive linemen in Baltimore and they could go that way again de-activating Still and rookie end Will Clarke.
The Bengals signed first-year player Ryan Otten to the practice squad Wednesday, giving them two tight ends on the squad who have yet to play in an NFL game. The 6-6, 241-pound Otten, undrafted out of San Jose, played in San Diego this past preseason and had one catch for 15 yards in three games. He was waived Aug. 26. after spending most of the 2013 season on the Chargers practice squad.
Otten is known more as a receiver than a blocker. He averaged about 15 yards per catch in colllege with reported 40-yard dash times of a solid 4.69 and 4.76 to go with a 33-inch vertical jump. He missed the 2013 NFL scouting combine with a life-threatening staph infection that developed from a cut in his finger, according to reports.