Week 1 of the 2023 NFL Season has officially arrived. The Cleveland Browns will open up their 2023 campaign this Sunday against their division rivals, the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are the defending AFC North division champions and are looking to repeat as the division champions as well as make another run to the Super Bowl.
Everyone is familiar with Cincinnati stars on offense such as quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receivers Ja’marr Chase, Tee Higgins & Tyler Boyd. On defense, Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson get a ton of attention as well.
What about the other key players for the Bengals? Here are the 3 defenders to watch for.
FS Dax Hill
Free safety Jessie Bates is no longer in Cincinnati, he’s now in Atlanta. The person who will be replacing him is their 2022 1st round pick out of Michigan, Daxton Hill.
Hill is a versatile defensive back who can play virtually anywhere in the secondary. Whether it is at corner or at safety, his play is quality. He spent most of last season backing up Bates and played cornerback on occasion if there were injuries at the position.
While Hill lined up in the slot and also out wide last year, this season expect him to play exclusively at safety. Despite barely playing in the preseason, he showed signs that he is the guy at the free safety spot with a few plays.
In their preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, quarterback Jordan Love goes deep for wide receiver Christian Watson but Hill makes a great play on the ball preventing a potential touchdown.
There is no denying Hill is talented and he is someone that Browns fans should keep a close eye on.
CB Cam Taylor-Britt
Sticking in the secondary, enter cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt, another 2022 Bengals draft selection. Browns fans should be familiar with Taylor-Britt after he emerged on the scene in the last meeting against these two teams. Taylor-Britt made some key pass breakups in the Week 14 matchup and he is locked in as the corner opposite of cornerback Chidobe Awuzie.
Taylor-Britt has had a strong training camp according to the Cincinnati media members and he is looking to build off of that. The 23-year-old from Montgomery, Alabama says that he is a different player than he was last season. He will get an opportunity to showcase that this Sunday. Taylor-Britt is someone who isn’t afraid of contact, he is a solid run defender and has shown growth in the passing game.
DE Joseph Ossai
People are familiar with Cincinnati Bengals defensive ends Hendrickson and Hubbard, but what about Joseph Ossai?
Ossai made headlines last season for the wrong reasons when he made an ill-advised late hit out of bounds against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. Ossai received a ton of criticism for that hit but his teammates came to his defense afterwards.
Ossai has opened up about how difficult it was for him after that but he has said he has forgiven himself for that. “I was mad at myself, for a while but I learned to forgive myself and move on because it’s a new year and right now, all that’s on my mind is redemption,” Ossai said in an interview with WCPO-9, the ABC affiliate for Cincinnati.
When it comes to the football side, Ossai seems prime for a breakout after putting together a strong training camp & preseason. Ossai has a great motor, and his ability to rush the passer effectively cannot be overlooked.
Ossai did suffer a high-ankle sprain in their preseason finale against the Washington Commanders but the head coach Zac Taylor gave an encouraging update for Ossai.
Zac Taylor says Joseph Ossai ankle prognosis is “encouraging.”— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) September 4, 2023
Calling him “day to day.”
That designation suggests IR won’t happen.
If Ossai were to play on Sunday, he is someone Cleveland should keep a close eye on especially if he joins Hubbard and Hendrickson on the field at the same time.
Besides the big names, are there Bengals players you are interested in watching Sunday? Join the comment section below and discuss who you are worried about that isn’t getting talked about: