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Darqueze Dennard signs deal with Cincinnati Bengals

The Cincinnati Bengals locked down their first-round cornerback.

The team announced Thursday that No. 24 overall pick Darqueze Dennard signed his rookie contract.

The 5-foot-11 corner is tough, muscular, thrives in press coverage and can play the ball in close quarters.

Dennard started 40 games at Michigan State, with his best season coming in 2013. While he wasn't as fast or athletic as some of the other corners in his draft class, he might be the most ready to play right away.

The supremely physical corner fills a need in the Bengals' secondary and has spent offseason practices working in the first-team slot.

While the Bengals are optimistic about top corner Leon Hall's "amazing" recovery from a second Achilles tendon tear, Dennard can play the buoy if the veteran misses any time.

Dennard's cousin, Alfonzo, is a cornerback with the New England Patriots.

In the latest edition of the "Around The League Podcast," the heroes debate the Super Bowl windows of Brady and Manning.

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