Sam Hubbard

Bengals Activate Sam Hubbard, Place John Ross On IR

Takkarist McKinley will not make his Bengals debut this week, needing to go through the NFL’s COVID-19 protocol. But the team will have a key pass rusher in uniform after some time away.

The Bengals activated Sam Hubbard from IR Saturday. The third-year defensive end has missed the past three games because of an elbow injury.

Cincinnati also moved John Ross to its IR list. While Ross has not been active since Week 6 and has not caught a pass since Week 1, he has run into multiple injury issues during another disappointing season. After a foot injury shelved him recently, more foot trouble emerged in practice this week, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.

This setback came shortly after Bengals coaches had a conversation with Ross about working as a cornerback, Garafolo notes, but the injury came on a play in which Ross was playing his usual position. None of this is good for a player who joined the Bengals as a top-10 pick.

The team did not pick up Ross’ option and has not featured him prominently this season, using younger players Tee Higgins and Auden Tate over Ross. While Ross requested a trade, the Bengals did not move him. Ross’ contract expires at season’s end. The Combine’s 40-yard dash record holder is not on track to enter free agency with much momentum.

Hubbard will return to a defensive line that no longer houses Carlos Dunlap, whom the Bengals traded during Hubbard’s injury hiatus. Hubbard will rejoin Carl Lawson in Cincy’s lineup, while McKinley — added on waivers this week — is set to join the incumbents next week.

The Bengals also placed cornerback Darius Phillips on IR and promoted guard Quinton Spain, wide receiver Stanley Morgan, cornerback Jalen Davis and defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie ahead of their matchup with the Steelers.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals Place DE Sam Hubbard On IR

After being designated a non-starter for the first time since 2012, Carlos Dunlap appears headed back to the Bengals’ first unit. The Bengals placed defensive end Sam Hubbard on IR Thursday, sidelining the young pass rusher for at least three weeks.

An elbow injury will shelve Hubbard, who joined Carl Lawson as a Cincinnati D-end starter against Baltimore. Hubbard has played at least 60% of the Bengals’ defensive snaps this season, operating as the team’s busiest defensive lineman.

The Bengals have used Hubbard, a 2018 third-round pick, as a starter since last season. The Ohio State product registered a career-high 8.5 sacks last season. This placed second on the team behind Dunlap, who recorded nine.

Dunlap voiced frustration about his recent demotion, but Hubbard’s injury should lead to the Bengals’ all-time sack leader being back in the starting lineup in Week 6. Dunlap, who has made 115 starts in his 11-year career, played a season-low 46% of Cincinnati’s defensive snaps in Week 5 but did record his first sack of the season.

Bengals Sign Third-Round DE Sam Hubbard

The Bengals have officially signed their entire draft class. After inking linebacker Malik Jefferson to a deal earlier today, the Bengals announced that they’ve signed fellow third-rounder Sam Hubbard.

Following three standout seasons at Ohio State, the defensive end was taken with the 77th pick during April’s draft. After redshirting as a freshman, Hubbard immediately had an impact during the 2015 campaign, compiling 6.5 sacks. He had another solid season in 2016 before establishing himself as one of the top pass-rushers in the Big Ten during the 2017 season. Hubbard ultimately finished the year with 42 tackles, 13.5 tackles for loss, and seven sacks.

With Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson penciled in as Cincy’s starting defensive ends, it’s unlikely that Hubbard will have a chance to contribute right away. However, he’ll still have the opportunity to compete with the 2017 third-rounder Jordan Willis for backup reps.

With the signing, the Bengals have inked each of their draft picks to contracts. Besides Hubbard and Jefferson, their 2017 class includes

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Draft Rumors: Bears, Nelson, 49ers, Key

Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson visited the Bears on Thursday, Josh Norris of NBC Sports tweets. Nelson would be a logical consideration for Chicago at No. 8. New Bears offensive line coach Harry Hiestand served in the same role at Notre Dame while Nelson was in school and Nelson has said that he would like to play for him again.

Here’s the latest batch of NFL Draft news:

  • The 49ers, who worked out LSU pass rusher Arden Key earlier this week, hosted him on a Top 30 visit on Friday, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Key’s stock may be falling in the eyes of NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, who pulled him from the latest edition of his Top 50 list, but Key still seems to be very much in the mix for the first or second round. As of this writing, The 49ers own the No. 9 pick in the first round and the No. 59 pick in the second round.
  • OSU defensive end Sam Hubbard will visit the Bengals on Friday, per Rapoport. For what it’s worth, Hubbard has also fallen out of Jeremiah’s top 50 after being ranked No. 41 in the previous edition.
  • The Bengals took former Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey to dinner on Thursday night, Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com tweets. The Bengals already made one major tackle acquisition when they traded for left tackle Cordy Glenn, but McGlinchey could be in consideration as they look to fortify the other side of the line. The Bengals own the No. 21 pick in the draft, which could be the right range to select him.

South Notes: Titans, Hubbard, Bucs, Saints

Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard is scheduled to meet with the Titans this week, tweets Jordan Schultz of Yahoo Sports. During his final season with the Buckeyes, the 6’5″, 265-pound Hubbard posted seven sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss, and is widely viewed as a late-first- or early-second-round selection. While Hubbard reportedly ran a disappointing 4.96-second 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, his three-cone time places him in the 96th percentile among defensive ends, and he ranks 15th among 2018’s edge rushing prospects in SPARQ, a composite score that measures athleticism. Tennessee ranked 12th in pressure rate a season ago, but could be searching for a young edge rusher to play behind starters Brian Orakpo and Derrick Morgan.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two South divisions:

  • The Buccaneers are hosting LSU cornerback Donte Jackson on Wednesday, according to Josh Norris of Rotoworld (Twitter link). Even after re-signing veteran Brent Grimes, Tampa Bay is still on the lookout for additional defensive backs after not only ranking 31st in pass defense DVOA, but giving up a ton of big plays in the passing game. Last season, the Buccaneers allowed allowed 57 completions of at least 20 yards, which was third-most in the league. A three-year starter, Jackson “may be the fastest player in this year’s draft,” as Lance Zierlein of NFL.com writes, adding Jackson offers “plus body control to handle tight or off coverage.”
  • Louisville cornerback Jaire Alexander visited the Titans today, reports Paul Kuharsky of PaulKuharsky.com (Twitter link). Tennessee has invested heavily its in secondary over the past two years, adding free agents such as Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan while expending a first-round pick on Adoree’ Jackson. Alexander would give the club yet another option, and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com — who ranks Alexander as the draft’s 16th-best prospect — says the ex-Cardinal is “rarely out of position” and has “elite ball awareness.”
  • Fullback Zach Line‘s new two-year deal with the Saints is worth $2.2MM, per Nick Underhill of the Advocate (Twitter link). Line will collect a $200K signing bonus, which is the only guaranteed portion of the contract. New Orleans signed Line to replace the injured John Kuhn last October, and the 27-year-old went on to play on 16.3% of the Saints’ offensive snaps (12th among NFL fullbacks) and 27.6% of the club’s special teams snaps.