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Hall finally joins Bengals on the field

The SportsXchange

CINCINNATI -- Cornerback Leon Hall saw his first work in full team drills during the Cincinnati Bengals' organized team activity practice Monday after missing the first two weeks due to a thumb injury.

During his time on the sideline, Hall was still able to do some individual work.

"All in all, it was a good day just to get my feet wet and get back out there and try to jell with the defense like I like to do and just try to have fun," Hall said. "It sucks being on the sideline, just watching. It's cool being out there and watching and helping guys out, but it's a whole other level when you're actually able to get out there."

Hall was optimistic last week that he would be able to participate in this week's four practices because he did not want to go into next week's mandatory minicamp without work in full team drills.

Even if he were healthy for all of OTAs, Hall was still going to be held out of some drills. Defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer knows what he has in Hall, Terence Newman and Adam "Pacman" Jones (who has missed most of OTAs due to a calf injury), but the rest of the corners have a lot to prove.

Brandon Ghee and Shaun Prater missed last year due to injuries, and Chris Lewis-Harris was on the practice squad. Dre Kirkpatrick remains an unknown as he rehabs from a knee injury and likely won't be on the field until training camp. Ghee has seen some snaps with the first unit due to the injuries to Hall and Jones.

This is the first time since 2010 that Hall has been able to participate in OTAs. There was a lockout in 2011, and last year he was coming back from an Achilles injury and was confined to working with trainers on the sideline.

"I am getting my work in, and when I'm not in, I am helping the younger guys out," Hall said. "We've got a real good blend. We have enough guys that are older and know what to do, but they are also able to help the younger guys."

The biggest question with the secondary, though, is who will line up at strong safety. Taylor Mays has the early advantage, but third-round pick Shawn Williams and Jeromy Miles also figure to be in the mix.

The Bengals had four starters at strong safety last year, including Chris Crocker, who helped settle things down over the second half of the season. Crocker is currently a free agent. In the final eight games, the Bengals had one of the best pass defenses in the league, allowing only four touchdowns and 210 passing yards per game.

Said Hall of the competition so far: "They all bring something different to the table. The biggest part for all of them is just making sure they know the playbook front and back. That frees you up to just play. The game moves a lot slower when you can do that. It's one of those things you want to learn to where you hear it in the call and you just think about it real quick and it's gone and you can start focusing on the offense."

--Offensive tackle Andre Smith continues to miss OTAs due to a personal issue. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said that he has not spoken to Smith since late April, when Smith was in town to sign his contract, but is confident that his right tackle will be in good shape once he reports, whether it is minicamp or training camp.

"He's going to be ready, he'll be in shape. As long as he's keeping an eye on his weight, it will be good," Gruden said.

With Smith not in town, fifth-round pick Tanner Hawkinson and Anthony Collins have been seeing time at right tackle.
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