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Taylor Mays Edges Ahead in Competition for Bengals' Starting Safety Job

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 1: Taylor Mays #47 of the Cincinnati Bengals draws a pass interference call while defending a pass for David Gilreath #12 of the Indianapolis Colts in the first half of an NFL preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium on September 1, 2011 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images
Matt GrayContributor IJune 5, 2012

Taylor Mays enters his third NFL season and second under the tutelage of Mike Zimmer. still with everything to prove. Consistently referred to as having potential to be a playmaker and a game-changer in the secondary, Mays is angling to turn that potential into production as he fights for a starting gig in Cincinnati this offseason.

Geoff Hobson of has noted that during OTAs, "Mays is the guy that seems to be playing the most with Nelson's first group"

Defensive coach Mike Zimmer has made clear that the player who proves the most consistent will get the job, but given that, on Monday he said: "I like big, fast guys...that's always a good thing as opposed to little, bitty guys," you have to think that Zim is hoping Mays will be that guy come Week One.

That is not to suggest that Mays is the only juggernaut in the Bengals secondary, with fifth-round pick George Iloka from Boise State sizing up at an equally large 6'4" 225lbs, and Robert Sands impressing coaches with the speed he packs into his 6'4" frame. Both of these young guys would appear to have a legitimate shot at pulling off an upset over Mays, for now at least.

Zimmer spoke openly about the progress of Taylor Mays on Monday: "In some areas; still got a ways to go...(He needs) consistency. Doing things right. Discipline. Accountability. Whoever lines up there, that is what I want: accountability. Day in and day out."

For now, Zimmer is keeping quiet on the position battle, and rightfully so. Mays may be the prime candidate for the job, but revealing that right now could see him relax a little too much and would also stunt the growth of the likes of Robert Sands, Jeromy Miles and George Iloka.

The battle for Chris Crocker's vacant spot is as Taylor Mays put it, "wide open." and is shaping up to be one of the most interesting positional tussles as we head into training camp.

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