The Cincinnati Bengals’ win over the Atlanta Falcons was more than enjoyable. The offense is hitting its stride while the defense held down a solid rushing attack even without Logan Wilson.
This looks like the AFC contender we were promised in the offseason. But there’s one player that maybe didn’t enjoy it as much as his teammates. Cornerback Eli Apple.
One week removed from a tough outing against the New Orleans Saints, Apple found himself being demoted on Sunday.
It started off as a regular game day for the veteran when for the seventh consecutive week, he got the start. But by the end of the game, he only had 16 defensive snaps (34%).
The reason? Second-round rookie Cam Taylor-Britt, who had 28 snaps himself (60%). Taylor-Britt made his NFL debut when he entered the game in the second drive of the game and kept rotating with Apple throughout the day.
It was a big shift for Lou Anarumo’s defense that makes cornerback one of the top positions to watch moving forward.
After missing most of training camp and the first six weeks of the season with an injury, Taylor-Britt’s return to the field means better depth but also a potential upgrade to Cincinnati’s starting lineup.
“We wanted to work Cam in there,” said head coach Zac Taylor after the game. “When he’s practiced for us, he’s done a really good job, made a strong impression. It’s time to start working him in.”
But does this mean Apple has been benched by the Bengals’ rookie? Not quite yet.
“We’ll obviously watch the tape and see how well he did in there,” added Taylor.
Whether this was a passing of the torch or just wanting to figure out where the rookie stands right now remains to be seen.
But Apple hasn’t been good enough to inspire thoughts of his job being safe. The Bengals cornerback has allowed a 66% completion rate and a 108.1 passer rating through seven games.
Right now, the Bengals have a Top 10 pass defense per DVOA. If Taylor-Britt provides an upgrade to the secondary, it would go a long way moving forward.