Skip to main content

Quick Hits: Bengals Reunite College Roomies; Roster Tilts To Defense With More Moves Expected; Rookie McCloud Intriguing Seventh CB

B.J. Hill: One of his draft's top producers.
B.J. Hill: One of his draft's top producers.

B.J. Hill only did the dishes when his mother visited them in college. But now Bengals linebacker Germaine Pratt is glad his old college roommate has re-joined him in Cincinnati because these days Bobby Gene Hill is scrubbing running backs and quarterbacks as one of the top producers from his draft class.

"He's consistent," Pratt said before Wednesday's practice. "Where ever they put him, he's going to do his job."

If anyone knows one of the newest Bengals coming through the door this week, it's Pratt. They already know Hill is an athletic three technique that brings 7.5 career sacks from the Giants in 48 games in the Billy Price trade, a nice complement behind starter Larry Ogunjobi.

But Pratt knows a lot more.

They were not only roommates for years in Raleigh, but they trained together in Charlotte, N.C., during the offseason. "He lived about 10 minutes from me," Pratt said. Not only that, the Giants took Hill with the 69th pick in the 2018 draft and the Bengals took Pratt with the 72nd in 2019.

"You've got to get to know him. I'm quieter than he is," Pratt said. "I was the neat one. I'm very neat. He didn't clean up after himself. He would only clean when his Momma was coming."

Pratt says they probably text close to every day, so he thought maybe Hill was pulling his leg on Monday when he said he was getting traded to the Bengals.

"No you're not," Pratt told him.

Hill enjoyed telling that story to the Cincinnati media before Wednesday's practice.

"They just told me they were going to trade me, and I didn't know where. That was on Sunday and they let me know Monday," Hill said. "We had a little talk and they said they were going to trade you to (Cincinnati). Right when I heard I called my guy Germaine and he was excited, too. He didn't believe at first and then I was like, 'Alright, you'll see it in a couple of minutes on Twitter.' "

Not long after the Giants took Hill in the 2018 third round, the Bengals grabbed Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard with the 77th pick. Hubbard leads all defensive linemen from that draft with 16.5 sacks. And if you count Hill as a defensive tackle, he'd have the third most sacks in that class with his 7.5 tied with first-rounder Vita Vea and 2.5 behind leader Daron Payne, another first-rounder.

But Pro Football Reference counts Hill as a defensive end, so he has the sixth most sacks of the '18 ends class, a .5 sack ahead of Rasheem Green, taken two spots behind Hubbard. Price may have been a first-rounder, but it turns out the Bengals did pretty well in the third and survived the selection of Texas linebacker Malik Jefferson with the pick after Hubbard.

So while he may be used here as primarily a back-up tackle, Hill isn't going to restrict himself to any position.

"All across the board from the 1 to the 5," said Hill of playing everywhere from nose to tackle to end. "In college I played the 1 mostly and in the league I've played all through the line. I can play wherever they need me to play."

The Bengals love the man's tape. Particularly what he did against them last year in the Giants' win at Paul Brown Stadium when, according to Pro Football Focus, he had three pressures on 17 rushes.

"I remember coming here and playing," Hill said, "but I don't remember how I played to be honest."

To be honest, the Bengals' version of the neat-messy Odd Couple has them both smiling.

"I'm happy that he's here and I'm here," Hill said. "My job is just to come in here and work each and every day. Everything that happened in the past, I'm glad that they drafted me there, but I'm here, 10 toes down here and ready to work."

Pratt has already seen it a lot.

"He comes to work," Pratt said. "Every day. He'll do whatever he'll have to do to get the job done."

DEFENSIVE MOVES: Take a good long look. During Wednesday's practice the Bengals announced they had claimed a cornerback and defensive end while cutting wide receivers Mike Thomas and Trenton Irwin. That left them with 27 players on defense and 23 on offense, most likely a first in the history of franchise known for cultivating offense.

Those numbers don't figure to last long. The Bengals are battling injuries at edge and cornerback. By Thursday they'll most likely make some moves to alleviate that by placing one or two of them on injured reserve-return, meaning they'll be eligible to return in three weeks. If they did it Wednesday, they'd be done for the year, like rookie edge Joseph Ossai, so they had to carry the injured guys through the first day of the 53-man roster.

It's hard to see Thomas and Irwin straying very far. Thomas is a favorite of head coach Zac Taylor and is used considerably by special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons. And all Irwin does is catch the ball and he could start out the season on the practice squad, where he spent the previous two years. Maybe the Bengals had five receivers in the late '60s and early '70s when there were 40-man rosters and they threw 15 passes a game, but Paul Brown would have done that reluctantly as the three-receiver innovator. You've to figure somehow they go into the opener with at least six receivers.

PRACTICE SQUAD STILL EVOLVING: The Bengals appeared to get everybody back they wanted for the 16-man practice squad. They signed 15 of the players they cut, including all three running backs (Jacques Patrick, Trayveon Williams, Pooka Williams, Jr.), both tight ends (Thaddeus Moss and Mason Schreck) and both linebackers (Joe Bachie and Keandre Jones).

They also brought back vet edge Noah Spence when they decided to claim Wyatt Ray from Tennessee.

The one glaring omission is quarterback. They didn't bring back Kyle Shurmur, but say they bring back Irwin as the 16th player? They're also going to need a No. 3 quarterback before they head into the season. They went looking Tuesday, but one got claimed and they kicked the tires on the guy that lit them up in Sunday's preseason finale, Reid Sinnett, but he went back to Miami's practice squad.

ON THE CORNER: Taylor indicated Tuesday that starting cornerback Trae Waynes (hamstring) won't be going on injured reserve. Which seems to be why they claimed a seventh cornerback, rookie Nick McCloud from the Bills, an intriguing 6-1, 190-pound prospect. He was undrafted after playing at N.C. State and later Notre Dame, but he had two passes defensed and an interception in the preseason.

He's not going to get many snaps, but Waynes, his replacement Eli Apple, as well as Darius Phillips, are all nursing injuries and he's here to take the load off in practice and special teams. The Bengals like their cornerbacks long and fast and McCloud fits the specifications. His 4.37-second 40-yard dash at his pro day in South Bend would have tied him for fourth best at the 2020 NFL scouting combine.