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Bengals sign top pick Dennard

By By The Sports Xchange
Published On: Jun 12 2014 08:30:16 PM CDT
Updated On: Jun 13 2014 11:16:43 AM CDT
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CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals completed the signing of their draft class by coming to terms with first-round pick Darqueze Dennard on Thursday.

The cornerback out of Michigan State slots at four years, $8 million as the No. 24 overall selection. There was little apprehension a deal would get done but still relief for everyone involved that the contract is resolved and all focus can move to football.

"Of course, it's great to have all this done well before we come back for training camp," coach Marvin Lewis said. "As for Darqueze, he's been everything we hoped he would be to this point. He's a great talent.

"He played in a big-time pressure defense at Michigan State and he's not afraid to be out there (in coverage) by himself. And as we knew he would, he conducts himself every day as a mature pro who wants to get better every day."

Teammates have noticed the play of Dennard as well. It seems about everyone around the facility has been impressed with the rookie. He has worked both in the slot and outside while never looking out of place.

Dennard appears primed to challenge Dre Kirkpatrick and possibly even the veteran top three of Leon Hall, Terence Newman and Adam Jones for playing time.

"He's definitely smart enough to make an impact in his first year," Hall said. "When he messes up, it's just small things. It's not like, 'Oh, God, he looked terrible on that play.'

"It's never been like that. He's right there, maybe it's just little technique issues or leverage issues."

The best storyline to come out of the week was the word regarding the recovery of Hall from a right Achilles injury he sustained last season.

Lewis called his recovery "amazing" and essentially a replica of two years ago, when he went from an Achilles injury to arguably his best season as a pro.

Any thought he wouldn't be ready for the beginning of training camp is out the window. In fact, Hall is moving on to bigger and better concerns.

"Getting back for training camp isn't really a concern for me anymore as far as if I'm going to make it," Hall said. "Now it's a matter of making sure I'm ready physically and emotionally ready to get, not only through it, but through the season.

"That's key. It's been a problem the last couple seasons."

--Mike Pollak turned out to be a savior filling in at guard with injuries to Kevin Zeitler and Clint Boling last year. He looks to be that again this season but for different reasons.

With center Kyle Cook released, the Pollak could move to center, where he spent his entire college career at Arizona State.

Pollak played a swing interior lineman with Indianapolis and last year for the Bengals, but never has actually taken meaningful snaps at center during a game. Depending on how the line shake out this year, he could do so now.

He's prepared for whatever positions the coaches choose for him.

"I'm just ready to come, wherever they need me to go," Pollak said. "They brought in (Russell) Bodine and he's doing a great job, and if they want to go with him at center, great, but I'm going to be ready to go at center or guard, wherever they need me."

Pollak only needs to be healthy and he will be a injured player to watch when camp opens in July. He has set a goal to be 100 percent by the beginning of camp as he battles a knee injury, but only time will tell.