By Adam Aniba
In addition to having Chase Young out for the month of September, it was reported that Kam Curl will miss Week 1 with a thumb injury.
Although Curl was hopeful to play in a cast, he wasn't cleared after further evaluation. There's still a chance he could play Week 2 vs Detroit though. In the meantime, second year safety Darrick Forrest has reportedly had an impressive training camp and will replace Curl in the lineup.
The former 5th rounder was primarily used on special teams during his rookie season, recording 7 tackles in '21 (missed the first month on IR). Forrest was already going to have a significant role in the Buffalo Nickel package per Ron Rivera and now will get the start. The second year defensive back will get most, if not all of the snaps at strong safety with Percy Butler and Jeremy Reeves likely being rotated, based on the defense alignment.
With little pro film on defense to go on for Forrest, we took a look back at his senior season at Cincinnati.
During his final season, the Bearcats defense boasted a Top 15 ranked defense in pass efficiency, rushing, scoring and total defense. Forrest finished the season with 40 tackles (1.0 for a loss) and 2 interceptions.
His most impressive moment that season, came in a 4th quarter game clinching interception vs UCF (11/21/20). Forrest picked off UCF QB Dillon Gabriel on a heads up play, which led to the Bearcats scoring a late TD in a 36-33 win. The victory propelled the Bearcats to the AAC Championship.
After dealing with back-to-back cancellations due to COVID, the AAC Championship vs Tulsa was finally played on 12/19/20. Forrest finished the game with 7 tackles enroute to a 27-24 victory and an invitation to the Peach Bowl. Although Cincinnati would lose to UGA 24-21 in the bowl game, Forrest impressed with with a season high 9 stops in the game.
The former 3-star recruit was the leader on the backend for the Bearcats defense. He was active in 49 career games with 36 starts (started final 28 games). He finished his career with 200 total tackles (126 solo), 4.5 tackles for a loss, 12 passes defended and 6 interceptions. Forrest would earn All-AAC honors twice during his time at Cincinnati.
Forrest was part of a defense that forced 16 interceptions with turnovers in 20-straight games, which is the longest streak in the NCAA.
During his time at CIncinnati, Forrest took Jets 1st round CB Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner under his wing, which led to one of the most productive defensive backfields in the nation. In a September interview with NBC Sports Washington, Gardner had the following to say about the impact Forrest had on him.
“He always pushed me, man. He pushed me to be great, especially in the weight room. He was always like ‘Come lift with me, come over here.’ He just helped me get bigger, stronger, more explosive, faster."
Similar to Curl, Forest is also a Day 3 draft pick, who defied the odds making an NFL roster. During his pro day, the Bearcats safety put on a show. His 4.41 40-yard dash left scouts surprised and wanting more. Forrest delivered, displaying his strength with 21 reps on the 225 lbs bench press, showed his explosion with a vertical leap of 39 inches and a broad jump of 11 feet.
After the pro day concluded, Forrest had the following to say about his performance.
"My goal today was to go out there and just put up great numbers and i feel like I accomplished that, It's showing that the hard work I put down in Fort Lauderdale is paying off."
Forrest had a productive offseason, but he'll have be sound against the run and the pass this Sunday. The safety boasts impressive speed and displays textbook tackling technique. His ability to shadow and bring down big bodied/atletic tight ends, during his time at Cincinnati, stood out on his film.
He'll face former #1 overall selection QB Trevor Lawrence in his first start and will have to be on his toes. Although Washington will likely have multiple safeties play this Sunday, Forrest will get an opportunity to show coaches that he can be more than just a backup role player.
*Games Watched- 9/26/20 vs Army, 10/3 vs S.FL, 10/24 vs SMU, 11/7 vs HOU, 11/13 vs E.CAR, 11/21 vs UCF, 12/19 vs Tulsa & 1/1 vs UGS (Peach Bowl)