Darqueze Dennard left the Bengals slot looking for a job on the outside a few weeks ago, but each never really took their eyes off the other.
When Dennard signed a one-year deal Monday to return as their top inside guy in the passing game he explained it was an issue of comfort even though new coordinator Lou Anarumo is building the defense as we speak.
"There's a lot things that were shook up. Definitely crazy, I will say that," Dennard said of his turn in free agency. "The thing it just came down to is the scheme that fits you. A couple of teams called and I had to weigh some options, Cincinnati being one of them."
Dennard has spoken on the phone only briefly with Anarumo, but he got the sense his defense is going to be familiar to him.
One of the reasons the Bengals covet Dennard and kept enough money around to sign him at the end of their free-agent activity is because he's a hard-nosed student of the game and he's comfortable with the returning secondary coaches in cornerbacks Daronte Jones and safeties Robert Livingston as well as Anarumo's background.
Anarumo coached for a season under Vance Joseph in Miami and Joseph was the Bengals secondary coach in Dennard's first two seasons as well as one of the guys pushing for Dennard in the 2014 first round. Jones is also a Joseph disciple.
"DJ and Rob do a good job of keeping things fresh," Dennard said. "(Anarumo) coached with Vance Joseph so I'm pretty sure there are going to be a lot of similarities."
Another reason the Bengals like Dennard (besides the fact he gives them three productive first-round corners) is because he's a pro's pro. He turned down a better multi-year deal last season to stay and he admits his "comfort zone," is playing outside instead of the slot. But he has vowed to make this a better year for himself and his team and he's buying what Taylor is selling.
"I talked to him a few days ago. Good talk," Dennard said. "We just talked about the excitement of the season. You can definitely tell he's got a lot of energy being a younger guy and also being very successful. That's always good. That's contagious. That's good to have around.
"Change is good."
Dennard, who turns 28 early in the season, has started 19 of his 68 career games and is one of their own they love to keep but still has plenty of ball left.
The oldest vet they retained is 28-year-old Tyler Eifert and fellow tight end C.J. Uzomah just turned 26. Right tackle Bobby Hart has 37 starts before his 25th birthday in August and middle linebacker Preston Brown has 547 career tackles at age 26.
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