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Lippett was looking forward to his first full practice with the Bengals on Wednesday.
“It’s good (being back with Anarumo),” Lippett said Wednesday before the team’s first full-padded practice. “It’s always good to see familiar faces. I’m going to come in here and try to get better every day and compete.”
Originally a fifth-round draft pick of the Dolphins in 2015, Lippett appeared in 25 games over his first two seasons in Miami, where Bengals head coach Zac Taylor also was on the staff his rookie year. Anarumo was the Dolphins’ defensive backs coach from 2012-17, also serving as interim defensive coordinator in 2015.
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Lippett played in all 16 games, 13 as a starter, in 2016 but missed the entire next season because of a torn Achilles’ tendon. The Dolphins waived him with the final roster cuts last year, and the Giants picked him up in October. He played three games with Anarumo serving as his defensive backs coach.
“He’s a great coach,” Lippett said. “He’s a players’ coach. He’s knowledgeable. He’s everything you can think of. I’m just going to try to continue to learn from, learn his defense and put it all together.”
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Lippett, who played wide receiver at Michigan State, said he doesn’t know much about the Bengals, but he can see it’s a “tight-knit group.” He had some familiarity with fellow former Spartans defensive backs Darqueze Dennard and Demetrious Cox and former Giants cornerback B.W. Webb and will lean on them in the transition.
Dennard, a sixth-year cornerback, is currently on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list but can be activated to practice as soon as he is medically cleared. He and Lippett battled in practices at Michigan State, and now Lippett will be competing for a spot at his same position.
“We came in together as freshman and we battled all the way until he left (for the draft),” Lippett said. “It’s always been good battles.”
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Lippett hasn’t played wide receiver since his last game at Michigan State, where he was the 2014 Big Ten Receiver of the Year. He started five games at cornerback as a freshman before converting to wide receiver full time in 2012 – with the exception of two starts on defense as a senior – and expected to play offense in the NFL after working out with the receivers the whole time during the 2015 NFL Combine.
The Dolphins instead drafted him as a cornerback and he hasn’t thought about switching positions since, he said.
“I didn’t process that part,” Lippett said when asked what he thought when the Dolphins called and said they wanted him on defense. “I was just excited about the whole concept of being drafted. Just trying to take it one day at a time.”
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Lippett said his time at wide receiver helped him become a better cornerback because he brought a different view and perspective to the position.
He’s played in 28 career games (13 starts) and totaled 81 tackles, 12 passes defensed and four interceptions and now will compete for a spot with the team he made his first start against on Sept. 29, 2016 – a 22-7 loss at Paul Brown Stadium.
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“I’m just going to control what I can control and that’s just coming in and try to prepare every day and compete every day,” Lippett said. “Continue to grind, continue to stay in the playbook, ask questions and continue to just seek knowledge.”