With defensive changes in the air this week as the Bengals practiced Tuesday for the first time since returning from the bye week, old/new friend Wallace Gilberry was re-united with the defensive line and plans to play right away while right end Michael Johnson watched on the side with an unknown ailment. And middle linebacker Rey Maualuga wasn't on the field to start a week where defensive coordinator Paul Guenther indicated he was going to look at younger players at all three levels.
Guenther, who issued his decree to shake things up last week, liked the way his guys responded and called Tuesday one of the defense's best practices of the year. He confirmed that Gilberry, cut by the Lions last month after spending the previous four seasons with the Bengals, is going in the rotation right away Monday night against the Giants (8:30-Cincinnati's Channel 5, ESPN) and that would presumably be at right end with Johnson and Will Clarke. Guenther did say that means one of the defensive lineman that has been active is going to be benched.
"(Gilberry) "knows what we're doing," Guenther said. "He kind of picked up the Xs and Os where he left off. He's in really good shape. We had him practice today and hopefully he can help us Monday night." Guenther also indicated that third-round pick Nick Vigil would get more look looks and he plays both middle backer and WILL. Guenther also indicated that cornerback Darqueze Dennard is going to get more of a look and if he is that would be at slot corner. He indicated Maualuga was fine physically and not injured.
In his third season of playing sparingly since he was taken in the 2014 first round, Dennard is more than ready after first playing behind starters and then last Nov. 22 blowing out his shoulder to end his season. Barely had he got back this past training camp when he hurt his ankle, an injury Dennard says has been cleared up now for about a month and he's poised.
"I feel like I still haven't had a chance. You look at the amount of plays I've had in my career it's definitely more positive than negative," Dennard said before Tuesday's practice. "Not even close with the positive and negative plays if you look at the plays I have played. But those guys have played at this level for a while and done Pro Bowl type things and All Pro type things as well. You got to look at their resumes as well. I know what I can do. Only thing I can do is keep working and be ready when my number is called."
Also sitting out was backup wide receiver James Wright, who rests his surgically-repaired knee each week.