Adolphus Washington, thanks to his coach at Cincinnati's Taft High School, was already a Bengal-in-law before reports of his agreement with the club emerged Tuesday.
According to a fusillade of reports, the Bengals plucked Washington from the Cowboys practice squad as their answer to Sunday's season-ending injury of defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow. They could have left the spot open for WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict's return on Monday or promoted their own practice squad defensive tackle, Virginia rookie Andrew Brown.
Instead, with no experienced three-technique behind Pro Bowler Geno Atkins, the Bengals apparently opted for the 6-4, 295-pound Washington's 32 NFL games and 22 starts with the Bills, one of which was in last year's Wild Card loss to the Jags. The Bills cut loose their 2016 third-rounder after he had two tackles in the 47-3 Opening Day loss to the Ravens. It's believed he'll sign Wednesday morning and practice.
So now we may see the Queen City package at some point Sunday in Atlanta (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) with three Cincinnati products on defense in Washington, middle linebacker Preston Brown of Northwest High School and rookie end Sam Hubbard of Moeller High School. Hopefully it means the next play you see punter Kevin Huber, the fourth player on the roster who grew up in Cincinnati. It also means that Hubbard and Washington are the 30th and 31st Ohio State players to play for the Bengals. Small world. Washington not only played with Hubbard in Columbus, but with Brown in Buffalo
"I want to talk to him there and let him know what a great opportunity he has," said former Taft head coach Mike Martin, a wide receiver on the '88 Super Bowl Bengals. "He has the ability. Does he have the mindset?" Good kid. I didn't have one problem with him. It's great for him. Facebook has been going crazy with it today."
Washington is one of the more important players in Taft's rise to prep football relevance. How far did Martin turn around Taft, best known as the house that produced Jimmy Wynn, Major League Baseball's Toy Cannon? The year before the West End school hired him, Taft cancelled the schedule. First, Martin got Tank Carradine, a defensive end now with the Raiders that the 49ers took in the second round out of Florida State. Then there was Washington. After Martin, a popular Bengal for seven seasons who one year led the NFL in punt returns, Washington put Taft on the map.
"He was a grown man in junior high with a moustache," Martin said. "Big man. An easy-going guy, likeable guy. A mild-mannered kid, but tenacious on the field. If you wanted to light a fire under him, just tell him the guy across from him was better.
"He was a major recruit across the country. I talked to everybody from (Nick) Saban to (Jim) Tressel)," Martin said of the coaches at Alabama and Ohio State. "I would tell the other players, 'Because of the attention Adolphus brings in, have those coaches say something about you.'"
It turns out that Washington became close with Martin's late son Marcus, a linebackers coach under his father.
"He liked the way Marcus caught the ball and how we was an athlete, so he started working with him after practice," Martin said.
While Martin got the Taft program rolling, he began a summer camp that had both Washington and Brown, future NFL teammates.
"I'm excited for him," Martin said. "He's one of those guys, it's a great chance for him. I've talked to him, but I don't know what happened in Buffalo. That's what I want to talk to him about. Whatever happened in Buffalo or whatever didn't happen doesn't matter now. Put it behind you and take advantage of this."