Last year, in his fourth pro season, Trey Hendrickson emerged as a serious pass-rushing threat.
The defensive end out of FAU had registered only 6.5 sacks in 30 career games from 2017-2019. But then he started 15 games last year and put up 13.5 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, and 25 quarterback hits.
That led to him receiving a four-year, $60 million deal from the Bengals in free agency.
Now as he begins playing on that lucrative contract, Hendricks is anticipating being on the field more than ever before. Last season, he played a career-high 53 percent of New Orleans’ defensive snaps. He expects that figure to increase in 2021.
“It’s going to be a unique opportunity to rush the passer and be used in different ways,” Hendrickson said, via Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “It’s looking very unique [from] anything I’ve ever played before, but I think it’s playing to both the [Bengals] defense and what I can bring to the table.”
The Bengals recorded only 17 sacks last season — fewest in the league. In addition to Hendrickson, Cincinnati brought in defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi through free agency. Hendrickson, Ogunjobi, defensive tackle D.J. Reader, and defensive end Sam Hubbard are the Bengals expected starters along their defensive line.
“It’s going to be a competitive atmosphere, but [Hubbard and I] are both making each other better,” Hendrickson said. “You can’t sack the quarterback one [against] five. I need him just as much as he needs me. Same with the interior, Larry, D.J. and Mike [Daniels], all those guys we all bring something to the table. That’s why football is so special because we all can’t do it alone.”
Cincinnati has improvements to make across the board after finishing 4-11-1 in 2020. But if the four up front can generate pressure, the rest of the defense will benefit.