One man's nick is another man's knack and Brandon Ghee used Sunday night's dearth of cornerbacks to take another step into the Bengals picture in their secondary.
With Ghee one of just healthy three corners, he got plenty of work and came up with a diving interception of quarterback Andy Dalton's tipped pass as he picks up where he left off from his strong spring before Cincinnati's first full house of training camp of 1,600 on the practice fields adjacent to Paul Brown Stadium.
It was such a good spring that the team's best corner, Leon Hall, said Ghee had been the best corner in May and June even though he's played all of 13 snaps from scrimmage (according to profootballfocus.com) in his two NFL seasons and just two last year after he got cut in training camp.
It doesn't look like Ghee is headed to the waiver wire this year.
"I could come out here the next day and have a bad play and y'all would say, 'He's the worst corner,' " Ghee said. "So you have to keep pushing and make more plays."
It looks like there will be some new corners to get the Bengals through this crunch of minor but nagging injuries. Besides the leg injury that figures to shelve rookie Dre Kirkpatrick for the next month, the only corner injury that truly has the team concerned are the knee problems of Shaun Prater. Prater, the other drafted corner from the fifth round out of Iowa, missed some of the OTAs and it flared up after the first two camp days sent him to the bench.
But the others except Kirkpatrick, should be back soon. The Bengals had planned to give Hall the day off Sunday after he worked the first two days on his surgically-repaired Achilles, and that no doubt is going to be a pattern the rest of training camp with days off every few days.
And that's kind of the thinking with Adam Jones and Terence Newman, as well as Nate Clements. Clements has yet to work with a pulled abdominal/groin muscle, while Jones got kicked in the calf Saturday covering a route and Newman seemed to just come up sore. With Newman, 33, Clements, 32, and Jones, a 28-year-old coming off a slew of injuries, the Bengals are going to back them off with even minor ailments and that's what these seem to be.
"We're in the marathon stage, not the sprint," said secondary coach Mark Carrier.
So look for the Bengals to sign guys to get some camp snaps. On Sunday they had to move rookie safeties George Iloka and Tony Dye to corner to get through the nickel periods.
The 6-4, 225-pound Iloka has impressed with his range, which allowed him to play corner in half of Boise State's games including its bowl. He found himself hooked up with fellow fifth-rounder, Cal receiver Marvin Jones, who sped by Iloka for a touchdown. But Iloka chalked it up to experience.
"The more snaps I get at corner and the more I get at safety, it's going to help me learn the entire defense," Iloka said.
Or as, Dye said, "A DB is a DB," and he hasn't played corner since his first week at UCLA.
Which is why the Bengals will probably go get some help, like when they signed rookie Chris Lewis-Harris out of Tennessee-Chattanooga to his first NFL deal the day before camp started. Lewis-Harris, Ghee and Jason Allen were the only corners standing Sunday.
The irony ever since the OTAs started in May is that cornerback was supposed to be the club's deepest position, but the Bengals have never been at full capacity. But it also shows why "You can never have enough corners," has become a cliché. In this era of routine 4,000-yard passers, you don't have to lose many before you're scrambling. It would seem highly unlikely the Bengals would keep as many as seven cornerbacks, but are those days coming?
The depth has helped in a lot of other ways. Ghee said that ever since Newman signed in May, the 10-year vet has been generous with advice and feedback.
"I just learned how to compete; I was inconsistent," Ghee said. "One day I'd compete, not compete the next. Now I know how to go hard every play. I think a lot of rookies, especially DBs, go through that maturity factor. I finally learned it and now I'm doing well."