Early in Darqueze Dennard's first training camp, NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport noted that the Cincinnati Bengals' first-round cornerback has shown better than advertised ball skills.
Coach Marvin Lewis raised the stakes on Thursday, crediting the former Michigan State star as "the best rookie corner I've seen," per Dan Hoard, the radio voice of the Bengals.
That's high praise considering two of Lewis' teams drafted first-round cornerbacks in back-to-back years.
As Ravens defensive coordinator, Lewis coached Duane Starks (No. 10 overall, 1998) and Chris McAlister (No. 10 overall, 1999). As Bengals head coach, he tutored a pair of decorated corners in Johnathan Joseph (No. 24, 2006) and Leon Hall (No. 18, 2007).
"If he stays on this path," veteran cornerback Terence Newman said of Dennard, via ESPN.com, "the sky's the limit for him."
The Bengals don't plan to start Dennard "right off the bat," according to Hoard, but he will see plenty of snaps in nickel and dime packages.
With two cornerbacks over age 30 (Newman and Adam Jones), another returning from a second Achilles surgery (Leon Hall) and a fourth who has yet to live up to his first-round pedigree (Dre Kirkpatrick), it's not a stretch to suggest Dennard could emerge as the best of the bunch by the end of his rookie season.
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