Bengals Notebook: How Simmons Decided On Punter; Kareem, Taylor-Britt To IR; By George, Another CFA

Khalid Kareem (90) headed to IR.
Khalid Kareem (90) headed to IR.

Darrin Simmons, the Bengals' longest-tenured special teams coordinator in the NFL, admitted a two-decade first.

He flip-flopped on the punter.

"Many times. Many times. Many times," Simmons said Tuesday after making the toughest of calls in the NFL.

Experience over potential.

Resume over risk.

Kevin Huber's franchise-record 207 games vs. Drue Chrisman's 25-year-old bazooka masquerading as a leg.

"It's a wide range of emotions. Yes, there were solid arguments for both," Simmons said. "But also the good part is it was OK regardless which way it went because we were going to be OK as a team."

At some point, too, there also has to be some trust in Simmons. In the past 11 seasons, when the Bengals have won three AFC Norths, been to six postseasons and a Super Bowl, the web site Football Outsiders has put the Bengals special teams in the top ten nine times.

And Huber has been his lone punter in that stretch.

"We probably took a more sure route than anything. A more sure line," Simmons said. "I think Drue has a great future, but he still needs some development that needs to happen with him and make him more refined. I think he can be a top level punter in this league. I just don't think he's there yet. I don't think he's far off and we decided to go for the more conservative route and stay with what's worked."

Simmons said Huber began hitting the ball better the last couple of weeks and the key was trying to step back while his punters followed through.

"I tried to look at the whole body of work and not the last punt," Simmons said.

IR BOUND: On a Zoom media call Bengals heads coach Zac Taylor said second-round cornerback Cam Taylor Britt (core) and edge Khalid Kareem (hamstring) are going to start the season on the four-week injured reserve list. They can only rehab and go to meetings and after the Sept. 29 Thursday night game against Miami they can start practicing in a three-week activation period.

Really tough for Kareem. He seemed to just fight through one of the shoulder issues that also put him on IR at the beginning of last season when he injured his hamstring on his ninth snap of the season in New York a few weeks ago.

And a tough break for Taylor-Britt, too. He was just coming off a really good week of practice before undergoing surgery on his core.

"I'll tell you this about Cam, his approach has been really good since this since this happened," Taylor said. "He's here early in the morning, getting his stuff done. He meets extra. He's doing everything we asked him to do. So I'm optimistic that when his time does come that he's able to come off the list and he'll be ready and doing everything that he possibly could have done to put himself in a position to go compete and get some playing time."

BACHIE BALL: Linebacker Joe Bachie, who so impressed them late last season before tearing his ACL, isn't quite back yet and is spending the first month on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.

"(Bachie)'s right there on the cusp. And so we think that these four weeks really put him over the edge," Taylor said. "Even the four weeks doesn't quite put him to nine months recovery but he's looked really good. We'll utilize these next couple weeks to make sure that he's really feeling good when he's able to come off that PUP list in four weeks."

BY GEORGE: With Taylor-Britt out, it looks like Vanderbilt cornerback Allan George is going to be the third rookie college free agent to play in an opener for Zac Taylor. Marshall edge Darius Hodge did last year and in Taylor's first game in Seattle Troy wide receiver Damion Willis started. In 2020 No. 3 quarterback Jake Dolegala out of Central Connecticut was inactive.

George is one of six CFAs on the roster, joining veteran wide receiver Stanley Morgan, Jr. and veteran tight end Mitchell Wilcox, Bengals CFAs from 2019 and 2020, respectively, as well as veteran cornerback Mike Hilton, a 2016 Jaguars CFA, veteran safety Michael Thomas, a CFA of the 2012 49ers and veteran cornerback Jalen Davis, a 2018 CFA Dolphins CFA.

"I think he had a strong last couple weeks of camp and continued to make plays when his number is called," Taylor said. "He got his hand on the ball a number of times. That just continues what Duke (Tobin) and the scouting department have done here with their eye for undrafted talent.

"They do a really good job of putting us in position to acquire some of those guys and bringing in the right ones that have a chance to make the roster and there's just a history of a number of years - well before I got here - of undrafted guys getting an opportunity here and making the most of it."

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