Note: Each day during camp, we’ll take a look at one of the former Boise State football players in the NFL. The full list is here.
Former Boise State safety George Iloka enters his second season as the starting strong safety for the Bengals. They have depth at the position with Shaun Williams, Taylor Mays and veteran addition Danieal Manning, but Iloka seems safe.
According to advanced stats, Iloka limited quarterbacks to the ninth-lowest passer rating of all NFL safeties on balls thrown in his area last year. The Bengals had the third-best defense in the league.
The next step for Iloka is to create more turnovers. He finished with one interception and two forced fumbles last season.
“He didn’t come up with many interceptions, if he had one at all. But maybe there’s more opportunity there,” coach Marvin Lewis said. “The thing is, the ball gets closed down the middle of the field, and that’s good. If we’re in the half or whatever coverage we’re on, he executed the coverage and did a nice job. He played all year with a broken hand, and I think this coming year he’s healthy now and should really make a big difference in everything he’s doing.”
Iloka’s practice intensity became an issue Wednesday when he twice hit former San Diego State wide receiver Colin Lockett on pass plays. The second time, Lockett refused Iloka’s offer of a hand up.
“The quarterback shouldn’t throw it there. That’s hard. That’s football. I wouldn’t take my hand either,” Iloka told Bengals.com. “I was just practicing and stuff happens when you’re practicing full speed. Obviously you want to keep the guys up.
“But they’re working on their craft like I’m working on my craft. Sometimes collisions happen, but today they just happened more than usual.”
Iloka is aware that he’s expected to get his hands on the football more.
“Who doesn’t want more picks?” he said. “I find a lot of picks are tips and overthrows. You just have to put yourself in that position to be there to make a play on the ball. A small percentage of interceptions are because he jumped the route. At least at the safety position. The corner position is different. The safety position, if you’re out there gambling and jumping, you’ve probably given up just as many touchdowns. If you check the sheets, I don’t give up touchdowns. I’ll take it. But I want to make more plays on the ball and that’s what I’m working on.”
TV games involving former Broncos this week:
— Chargers (Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe) at Seahawks (Jeron Johnson), 8 p.m. Friday, 6/NFL Network
— Packers at Rams (Austin Pettis), 2 p.m. Saturday, NFL Network
— Ravens at Cowboys (Orlando Scandrick, Tyrone Crawford, DeMarcus Lawrence-injured), 5 p.m. Saturday, NFL Network
— Broncos (Ryan Clady, Matt Paradis) at 49ers, 2 p.m. Sunday, NFL Network
— Chiefs at Panthers (Richie Brockel), 6 p.m. Sunday, Fox
— Browns (Billy Winn) at Redskins, 6 p.m. Monday, ESPN
Note: Quarterback Kellen Moore and the Lions play at Oakland at 8 p.m. Friday. That game will air on NFL Network on a delayed basis at 2 a.m. Saturday.
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