Even though one of them has only played 14 snaps in the first four games (safety Dax Hill) and the other one isn't on the active roster (cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt), the run-up to Sunday night's (8:20 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 5) AFC North slugfest between the Bengals and Ravens in Baltimore has been eventful for Cincinnati's first two draft picks.
Hill, the first-round pick out of Michigan, found out he won't get that chance to tackle his older brother. Running back Justice Hill, who just happens to be the Ravens' second-leading rusher behind quarterback and MVP candidate Lamar Jackson, looks like he'll be out.
Taylor-Britt, the second-round pick from Nebraska, got back to practice this week from nearly two months on the sideline after core surgery and they've got three weeks to activate him. They welcomed him back to practice by asking him to simulate the impossible by lining up as Jackson on the scout team.
"No one really knew he played quarterback in high school,' said slot cornerback Mike Hilton before Thursday's practice, confirming Taylor-Britt had indeed thrown a 65-yard dime the day before. "He threw it pretty well. Spiral and everything. Look, nobody can do what that guy (Jackson) can do, but that's as probably as good as you're going to be able to do."
Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan came off the practice field Thursday recalling how Taylor-Britt came into the quarterbacks room in training camp declaring he could throw it 80 yards. Not as many guys are laughing now.
"He can launch it," Callahan said. "You just don't know where it's going."
Taylor-Britt never wanted to play quarterback, but Wednesday was probably the happiest he's embraced it in his life even though he hadn't lined up behind center or thrown a ball since that senior year he was named first-team All-State quarterbacking Park Crossing High School in Montgomery, Ala., with 1,466 yards and 16 touchdowns passing while running for 1,030 yards and 14 touchdowns.
"I'm just glad I'm back on the field and being able to help anyway I can," Taylor-Britt said.
He's doing what he's always done. Help the team. Truth be told, CTB never wanted to play quarterback. He wanted to be a running back or a wide receiver or running back. But he was the best quarterback The Park had.
When then-Nebraska head coach Scott Frost came to Montgomery to recruit him, Taylor-Britt said he witnessed an argument in his living room among Frost, his defensive coordinator and secondary coach on what position he'd play if he came to Lincoln.
Even though Frost wanted him to play quarterback, Taylor-Britt signed on because he thought a message had been sent when a rare snow arrived the same day as Frost's visit. He thinks only Fresno, Calif.'s Adrian Martinez signing with the Cornhuskers got him off the hook to play quarterback.
But there is some karma with him trying to give the Bengals a Lamar Look. His senior year at Park Crossing was the year Jackson won the Heisman Trophy at Louisville, where another Park Crossing quarterback, then freshman Malik Cunningham, watched from the Cardinals bench.
"I watched a lot of Lamar my senior year," Taylor-Britt said. "He's a real quarterback, he's in the NFL for a reason. He's a true athlete and you've got to give him that … He's like a Madden character."
CTB says his 65-yard "dime," to practice squad receiver Trenton Irwin just missed. "Fingertips," Taylor-Britt said.
"I'm looking for a 75-yard back-side post today," he said, although "(My arm) is out of whack."
Taylor-Britt is running a script, but everyone knows how dangerous Lamar is unscripted: "They give me my tips ahead of the play, but other than that it's all me."
BROTHERLY SHOVE HAS TO WAIT: Dax Hill isn't sure when it's going to be all him. In Thursday night's win over Miami, he played just one snap as he waits behind the crown jewel safety tandem of Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has crafted some packages for him, but they've kept him close to the vest.
"You can only control what you can control," Hill said this week. "It depends what the package is. We'll see what happens. I'm learning. I'm watching the older guys. See how they game plan and how seriously they (prepare) for each game. That's kind of how I want to approach it."
The 5-10, 200-pound Justice Hill, three years older at 25, was making the most of his comeback after losing last year to a torn Achilles. He came into the season with 70 career carries for 285 yards in two previous year. He's already got 125 yards on 19 carries for 6.6 per pop, but it looks like he's going to miss it with a hamstring issue.
Although the 6-0, 190-pound Dax Hill played one year with him in high school at Tulsa's Booker T. Washington, he can't remember tackling him beyond the living room or backyard in pads.
"I've never tackled him in a game. That's my job," Dax Hill said. "I'll be able to trash talk him after the game."
After last April's draft, Justice Hill admitted it would be a little different.
"It's going to be funny seeing him out there," Justice Hill told Bengals.com. "I'll be out there laughing, honestly. Nothing bad. Just having fun with it. I'm glad he's going to a winning organization. It's hard to go to a losing team. Y'all just turned it around."
It will have to wait until the season finale at Paycor.
CTB WATCHING: Taylor-Britt is doing what Dax Hill is doing. Watching the Bengals' seasoned secondary do it the way the pros are supposed to do it. CTB says the one benefit to being out so long is he was able to watch from a different perspective he didn't expect. He learned things like how to watch NFL film.
"Honestly, a big one for me," Taylor-Britt said. "There are some things from college you have to really change up once you get here. I asked the guys what are the tendencies I need to look at here and there.
"Going through first and second down cutups. Who they target on third down," Taylor-Britt said. "How does this guy release this way or that way? It's really detailed. The whole group (helped). Guys just want us to succeed. If they succeed, we succeed and if we succeed, they succeed."
SLANTS AND SCREENS: The Ravens aren't blitzing like the Wink Martindale days of yore. They're 11th in the league at 27.6 percent of the time. But Callahan notes Martindale's successor as Ravens defensive coordinator is Mike Macdonald, an intern, secondary and linebackers coach in Baltimore for seven seasons before returning this season after a year as Michigan defensive coordinator.
"I wouldn't say that it's changed. I would say the deployment of the blitzes might be just a little bit different," Callahan said. "Their personnel is different. Some of the exotic stuff they may not run because they don't have the people for it, but he was with Wink for (seven years). He's willing to deploy those as needed." …
The Bengals have high regard for how center Ted Karras and right guard Alex Cappa have played and it sounds like they'll have their hands full with the ageless Calais Campbell, the 6-8, 300-pound end-tackle. Even if he just turned 36 early in his 15th season.
"He's so big, he's so long. Even when he doesn't win on the pass rush he puts up those Go-Go Gadget arms and tips balls," said Callahan, 37, clearly a child of '80s and '90s Nickelodeon. "He's just hard to move. He's such a long, physical defensive tackle and he can flex out and play some end. He played end against New England and crushed the tight end." …
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has to keep in mind that Campbell is one of five active defensive linemen with more than 50 passes defensed with 56. The list is headed by old friend Carlos Dunlap, who has three more than the 66 of J.J. Watt …
Certainly Campbell has it in mind.
"If you look at when they've won ball games versus when they lost, the pressure was the key, and not just pressure, but getting to (Burrow)," Campbell said Thursday in remarks distributed by the Ravens. "Getting the ball off of him. That's why the one thing I feel like we have to really do a good job of is taking advantage of turnovers when they're there, especially in the pocket. We have to be really, really great with the pass rush lanes and rush together as a unit and go out there and really wreak havoc."
The Ravens lead the NFL forcing 10 turnovers. But Burrow has not thrown an interception in seven of his last eight regular-season games …
The Ravens made a bevy of moves at safety in the offseason, signing vet free agent Marcus Williams and making Penn State's Kyle Hamilton the first safety drafted with the 14th pick. But probably no safety is playing better than the Bengals' Vonn Bell after his first two-pick game. The first was shadowing quicksilver Dolphin Tyreek Hill, the former Chief.
"People underestimate his range," said defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo this week. "One of the things we heard when he got here is, 'He can't do this, he can't do that.' Well, he can do a lot. And that was a hell of a pick because he came over the top of him. It was very, very similar to the play against Tyreek in the first game here."
Anarumo was referring to the AFC North clincher here last year in the 34-31 win over the Chiefs.
"It was right before the half. It was such a far throw, I remember watching Mahomes load up and then turning my whole body, going 'Oh my God, who's down there?'" Anarumo said. "Because I knew once he loaded up, he saw something and I knew it was 10 (Hill). And Vonn just happened to punch the ball out. (Thursday's interception) was a similar play, but this time he was able to get in front of it and pick it off and made a hell of a play." …
Thursday's injury report saw right tackle La'el Collins (back) and tight end Devin Asiasi (ankle) elevated from out to limited and kicker Evan McPherson (groin) upgraded from limited to full. Tight end Hayden Hurst (groin) and wide receiver Tee Higgins (knee) stayed limited …