COMMENTARY | The coaching staff for the Cincinnati Bengals have a tough decision to make this preseason when it comes to the strong safety position across from Reggie Nelson thanks to Taylor Mays and the addition of rookie Shawn Williams.
Mays is a physical specimen who, after three years in the league and being traded for just a late-round pick, has likely worn out his welcome as a starter. A lackluster performance last year and having his playing time reduced didn't help things either.
In other words, the Bengals would be wise to start a rookie in Williams over Mays at this point.
However, according to The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy, Mays has the edge simply because of his experience in the system and league overall:
Mays has the edge in first-team snaps during OTAs and minicamp but Miles has gotten plenty of reps as well. After being used mainly on special teams his first two years, Miles was in for 11 percent of defensive plays last season and had 15 tackles along with a pass defensed. He was also second on special teams tackles with 15.
Like Mays, the biggest thing that Miles has tried to improve is coverage.
Right now this news should not come as a surprise as Mays at the very least has experience in the system defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer runs.
That said, Williams has plenty of time to cover the gap between the two and take over the starter. It would also be irresponsible to count out special-teams ace Jeromy Miles, but the safe bet is Miles sticking to what he knows best on kick coverage.
The Bengals need Williams to start next season, not just for the fortunes of 2013, but for the fortunes of the future.
There is no way Williams is any worse than Mays, Nate Clements and Chris Crocker, all names who filled in at the position last season. Williams needs to be in there from the opening gun to gain critical game experience so he can adapt to the league faster.
Williams may struggle at times, especially in coverage, but that's fine on a defense that consistently ranks in the top of the NFL. If Williams at strong safety is the only weak point that's something Zimmer can mask because the rest of the unit is so strong.
Unless Mays has some sort of drastic jump in development, which is hard to imagine as he is a known commodity at this point, Williams needs to start.
Right now the Georgia product has looks of a starter, but there is still a long way to go. For the present and future, Williams needs to be the starter in 2013.
Chris Roling is a graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. His work has appeared on Bleacher Report, Fansided, The Cincinnati Enquirer and more. He is the co-host of a Cincinnati Bengals podcast, @BengalsCentral
You can follow Chris on Twitter @Chris_Roling
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