Steelers: 4 Bengals players fans should watch out for today
By Shayne Kubas
Steelers must challenge FS Jessie Bates
As tempted as I am to debate whether Minkah Fitzpatrick or Jessie Bates is the best safety in the AFC North, that’s a topic for another day. Regardless of where I or anyone else stand on that, one thing just about everyone will agree on is that Bates is among the best in the NFL at the free safety position.
Still just 24 years old, he has played and started in all 50 games to start his career. Not only that, he has played nearly every snap from day 1 of his career, something you rarely see from rookie defenders. That level of durability and consistency translates to his play on the field, as he has topped 100 total tackles and recorded three interceptions in all three of his full seasons.
He has excellent range in coverage, does a great job at timing his plays on the ball, and is not afraid to hit people when he has the chance. The balance of finesse and power is what makes him so consistent, and his ability to do anything asked of him makes him a challenge for offenses to avoid. Throwing deep is a risk anytime he is the deep safety, and targeting the tight ends against him is rarely successful.
The best bet for the Steelers is to show a willingness to attack downfield, forcing the Bengals to keep him in deep coverage responsibility to help open up the intermediate area of the field. The farther away he is from the ball the better, and when he does move closer to the ball, that’s when you dial up something deep.
Last but definitely not least at over 340lbs, we have the mammoth in the middle of the Bengal defensive line.