The first glimpse of what head coach Zac Taylor and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan are putting into the Bengals’ new playbook appeared Thursday at Paul Brown Stadium when tight end C.J. Uzomah re-upped for three more years.
Also Thursday, various outlets reported that the Bengals were hosting and/or setting up visits for three free-agents: Falcons cornerback Brian Poole, Broncos linebacker Shaq Barrett and Bills guard John Miller. Miller, a third-round pick out of Louisville, heads into his fifth year after starting 47 games at right guard in Buffalo. The 6-2, 250-pound Barrett is a two-way type of guy that can rush off the edge with 14 career sacks while also playing some cover backer.
Uzomah, one of the more popular Bengals in and out of the locker room, says he’s been doing a ton of research on Taylor and tight ends coach James Casey and has concluded, “These guys are awesome.” He had good sources on Taylor from his Auburn connections that coached with Taylor at the University of Cincinnati in J.B. Grimes and Tucker Tuberville.
Callahan also did his research on Uzomah and saw enough that he targeted to him to return because he covets his versatility. When Taylor coached the Rams the past two seasons they had tight ends that could do a little bit of everything. The blocking of Gerald Everett (33 catches last season) and Tyler Higbee (24) aided running back Todd Gurley’s 1,251-yard season.
“He’s a pass-game threat. He’s got run game physicality. He’s got athleticism to reach and run,” Callahan said. “He can knock people off the ball. He’s going to be a really good fit for what we want do and what we ask of our position in our offense.”
Uzomah, who had a career year in 2018 as the last tight end standing with 43 catches and three touchdowns, also drew high grades for playing hurt through the hurricane of hurts in the tight end room that saw five season-ending injuries. Uzomah’s not even sure, but he thinks he hurt it in the fifth game and although he didn’t need surgery he was told to rest it for a month after the season and he looks ready to go.
“From what I understand, he’s highly, highly respected in the locker room as a guy that people leaned on around here as a leader,” Callahan said. “A tough son of a gun. It’s impressive a guy showed that kind of toughness and went out there for the teammates. That speaks volumes of the character of the player. Guys like that have a ton of value.”