Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor was non-committal about quarterback Joe Burrow’s status for Sunday and defensive end Joseph Ossai’s timeline with an ankle injury, but there was a definitive answer when it came to cornerback Chidobe Awuzie.
“Yes,” Taylor said when asked if Awuzie will play.
Bengals CB Chidobe Awuzie To Start Week 1
Awuzie will begin his seventh season in the league on the same field where he tore his ACL on Oct. 31, 2022: Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium. The irony is not lost on him.
“When the schedule came out, that was the first thing I thought about,” Awuzie said last month after taking part in his first team drills during training camp. “I remember me and [defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo] actually talking about it a little bit. So yeah, that would be a very symbolic game.”
Awuzie was playing the best football of his career when he got hurt in the 32-13 loss to the Browns on Halloween night. Ironically, the Bengals went on a 10-game winning streak without him as rookie Cam Taylor-Britt stepped into a bigger role and improved as the season advanced.
Taylor said during Monday’s news conference why Awuzie is so important to what the Bengals do defensively:
“He’s arguably one of the smartest corners in the league. I haven’t coached every corner, but he’s just got those instincts, that awareness. Physically, he’s as talented as anyone. So there’s a lot that he brings to the table that people see and people don’t see.”
“It’s good to get him back,” Taylor continued. “Just him back in the huddle, him back out there taking reps — he really makes those receivers work for everything that they get. I know that they would tell you that. He’s a great weapon to have back there.”
Awuzie’s experience is especially valuable for a Bengals team that will have two first-time starters in the secondary in safety Dax Hill and Taylor-Britt, plus safety Nick Scott heading into his second season as a starter and first with the Bengals.
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