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Bengals Rookie CB Taylor-Britt Stays True To Big Personality

CB Cam Taylor-Britt
CB Cam Taylor-Britt

Second-rounder Cam Taylor-Britt, one of the relay rookies in that suddenly sudden Bengals secondary, has a quick personality to match.

The Bengals started their fourth week of voluntary workouts on the field Monday and first in helmets and he's definitely of that generation where rookies aren't afraid to be seen and heard. Nebraska teammate Stanley Morgan, Jr., smiled when asked if his buddy had toned it down around NFL players.

"He's more toned up," Morgan says.

And that's OK because he's talking team instead of trash.

"Context," says Bengals cornerbacks coach Charles Burks. "It's OK to be enthusiastic about what you're doing. He's got passion for his teammates, passion for the game and it's really exciting to be around."

CTB's passion has him thinking about starting a foundation that would bring together homeless dogs and needy children in pursuit of the greater good.

"Give them away to people that need them," he says. "I feel like dogs can help."

 His three-year-old rescue pit bull mix, Cinco, named after his Nebraska No. 5 jersey, has him pretty well defended. He's had Cinco since he was three weeks old when he saw his plight on Facebook.

"My dog knows every emotion I have," CTB says. "I've always grown up around (pit bulls). People think they're violent, I guess. But they're really family dogs. I love them. It depends who trains them."

CTB's trainers have to be content with what they've bred. A record-setting high school quarterback in Montgomery, Ala., who turned into a hard-hitting Big Ten cornerback and became the 60th pick the draft when the Bengals traded up to get him. The kind of player that Taylor-Britt himself offers a comparison.

"I play like an angry pit bull that's been locked up for 100 years, you could say," CTB says. "When you let me out of this gate, it's going to get ugly."

That personality, in addition to his game tapes, is something Bengals scouts and coaches could sink their teeth into after last year's campus visits and interaction with him at the NFL scouting combine. It's why they targeted CTB with one of their 30 pre-draft visits to Paul Brown Stadium and a big reason why, as the cornerback pool shriveled, they made their earliest trade up the draft board in the 27 years since they went all the way up to No. 1.

He's backing up a battle-tested brew of veteran cornerbacks in Mike Hilton in the slot and starters Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple, a position that reflected the cauldron of chemistry head coach Zac Taylor stirred throughout the roster to the Super Bowl.

Hilton had come from the undrafted ranks to be one of the league's best in the slot. Awuzie had been the 60th pick himself five years ago and had come through free agency to log a Super Bowl interception. Apple had been a top ten pick who re-built his career with his fourth team. It would be just fine. A rookie could be seen and heard at the same time.

"In the meetings, he introduced himself to everybody. He has a great personality. Not a me-first rah-rah guy," Hilton says. "He's just got a smile on his face and positive energy.

"We don't want those guys coming in uptight or anything like that. Be yourself. We're accepting of everyone in here. We love the joy and the passion he brings to the game. Every place is different. In our room, we're open to whatever. You can be a veteran, a rookie, a coach. We're open to all info and knowledge."

Here's why Hilton says a rookie really should be heard, as well as seen.

"He's out there making rookie mistakes that are normal, but he's also being very vocal," Hilton says. "If he's wrong, he'd rather be loud and wrong than quiet and wrong. Rookies don't want to make mistakes, but he has no problem making a mistake and coming to Coach or a player or anybody else to figure out what he did wrong and that's a great thing for a rookie."

Taylor-Britt has been like this since he can remember. He can thank his mother for the big personality: "She has more fans than I do."

"That's not going to change. I've been like this my whole life," CTB says. "This is just an opportunity to be myself. My mom told me I was like this when I was six years and I was trying to get kids to come out and play football with me. I've always been a leader. I try to lead by example. It worked out well for me at Nebraska, where I was a captain and that was a tremendous experience for me."

Taylor-Britt scans the lockers of the veteran defensive backs and doesn't leave out safety Vonn Bell.

"Mike, Eli, Chido, Vonn. Look at all these great guys. They're making sure I understand the things that I don't. Just leading me through the way," CTB says.

If there's one thing that has surprised him during his first month in an NFL locker room, it is exactly that. The Bengals locker room.

"How close everybody is on this team. You can see why they made it this far," Taylor-Britt says. "Everybody said it's a fluke. But just being in this locker room as much as I've been, you can see this team is really together. They needed a few missing pieces. I think that's why they drafted who they did."

When they drafted Michigan safety Dax Hill in the first round, it marked the first time in their history the Bengals drafted defensive backs with their two first picks. When they traded up in the fifth round to take Toledo safety Tycen Anderson, it was the first time in history they traded up twice in different rounds in the same draft.

The common threads were speed and position flexibility. Each has been clocked at 4.38 seconds in the 40-yard dash and had college snaps at safety and cornerback. Burks found even more once Taylor-Britt arrived.

"I was surprised in person how explosive he is," Burks says. "It showed up every now and then on tape, but he's a really explosive athlete. And he has really good ball skills, which you don't see from a lot of corners even throughout the league."

CTB says the trio of DBs has bonded as quickly as their 40s.

"It's like we played in college together, as far as film work and telling each other what we're doing right and wrong," Taylor-Britt says.

He's asked if the three race in the 40, who would win, and, of course, Hill just happens to be sitting right there.

"I'm going to say me. I'm going to say me," CTB says. "Dax is kind of slow. Look at him."

By now, they are both laughing.

"Nah, we're good, though," says one rookie who doesn't mind being heard. "We can race. I'm down for anything. Love competition."