CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Joe Bachie knew he would get opportunities if he just kept working hard and stayed patient. Then, it was a matter of going out and playing well in his chances, starting with special teams.
That’s how he earned his spot on the active roster Oct. 26, when he was signed off the practice squad after Jordan Evans and then Akeem Davis-Gaither went on injured reserve. When Logan Wilson and Markus Bailey went down within minutes of each other in the Dec. 5 game against the L.A. Chargers, a spot opened up for Bachie.
Bachie got his first start last week against San Francisco and could play a big role Sunday at Denver when the Bengals face a Broncos team with two standout running backs. Bailey (neck) was limited Thursday but participating in team drills Friday during the media portion of practice.
“Every week I go into preparing like I’m gonna play, and, good thing I did because that Chargers game, Logan goes down, Markus goes down within like four plays, and then all of a sudden, I was thrown out there,” Bachie said. “So you got to be ready for those moments because you don’t know in my situation. You don’t know when that’s gonna come or if it’s ever gonna come so you’ve got to take advantage of it.”
A second-year player out of Michigan State University, Bachie originally was a college free agent signee of the New Orleans Saints in 2020. He joined the Bengals on waivers from Philadelphia in May.
Bachie, who played four games with the Eagles last year, was among the final roster cuts before the season but signed to the practice squad. Until now, he’s primarily been a special teams players.
“I knew I could play in this league,” Bachie said. “It was just a matter of the opportunity I get, you know, playing time and when I got here, it was do whatever you can do to stick around. That started with special teams, and that kept me on practice squad and also my number was called earlier in the year against Detroit. I just had to go out there and play well. I know I play at this level, just a matter of repetition and how many chances you get and the opportunities that come.”
Bailey could return this week, but the Bengals linebackers could be in for a busy day. The Broncos have rushed for a combined 485 yards the past three games and continue to climb up the league rankings, now sitting at 11th with 123.1 rushing yards per game.
The Bengals have been solid against the run, thanks to improvement up front, and still rank fourth while limiting opponents to just 93.1 rushing yards per game.
“They’re a physical team,” Bachie said. “They’re O-line plays really well together. They’ve got two really good backs who touch the ball 15-20 times a piece. They got a solid quarterback (Teddy Bridgewater), and they obviously have weapons on the outside. But, our goal is we stop the run. Every week that’s what we talk about -- get them off schedule, get them in third and long. That’s really our goal. But like I said, they got a really good backfield, they have a good O-line.”
Melvin Gordon leads the team with 159 carries and seven touchdowns to go along with 716 yards rushing, and rookie second-round pick Javonte Williams has a team-leading 743 yards rushing and three touchdowns on 155 carries. Bachie said they are both physical runners that won’t go down the first hit.
Gordon rushed for 111 yards last week in a win over Detroit while Williams had 73 yards on 15 carries. The previous week while Gordon was out with a hip and shoulder injury, Williams rushed for 102 yards on 23 carries in a loss to Kansas City.
“They are really balanced,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said of the Broncos running backs. “The number of carries each of them have, and I know they haven’t played the same number of games. It’s a really good tandem. It’s one guy I have had a lot of respect for a number of years in the league and another we really liked in the draft. They got both of them, and they are both doing a really good job. Their offensive line is playing really well, too. They’ve also got the play actions and the receivers outside. It’s a really good group. They have done a good job putting that thing together and playing to their strengths.”
Bengals free safety Jessie Bates said that as much as the Broncos’ rushing stats stand out, he’s not worried about how the defense will handle that. Cincinnati has been solid against the run most of the season with the exception of a couple bad-tackling games like against Nick Chubb and the Browns in Week 9.
“I guess since we’re talking about stats we can say that our defense is the No. 4 run defense,” Bates said. “I’m very confident in our guys up front to stop the run with two-high or single high safety. I’m confident.”
Bengals at Broncos, 4;05 p.m., CBS, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7
About the Author