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Taylor Mays sits on Cincinnati Bengals' roster bubble

Taylor Mays has been a big weekly character in this season of HBO's "Hard Knocks" for a variety of reasons. He stands out.

When the safety gets poked fun at during the Cincinnati Bengals' rookie talent show, no one is surprised. (And everyone is laughing.)

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Once you get past the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle bags and superhero conversations, an uncomfortable reality lingers. Mays' disappointing NFL career is at a crossroads. The former second-round draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers is squarely on the Bengals' roster bubble entering a contract season.

"It's more added pressure because I want to have something to show for it," Mays told The Cincinnati Enquirer about the last year of his contract. "I want to have more to show for it than I do right now. I'll be all right."

Mays won the Bengals' starting job out of camp last year, but he quickly was benched. He was used sparingly in the second half of the season. Joe Reedy of The Enquirer wrote that Mays and Jeromy Miles appear to be battling for Cincinnati's final safety spot, and Miles was a better special-teams player last season.

"Hard Knocks" is fascinating because it shows the breadth of stories on every NFL roster. Mays is a familiar one: A talented player whose career hangs in the balance, even if he doesn't quite realize it. 

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