First-round 2014 draft selection showed excellent progress in 2015, but was lost for remainder of season in Game 10, Nov. 22 at Arizona, due to shoulder separation ... Arizona game had marked his first NFL start ... Closed season with 16 tackles, one INT, three total passes defensed and four special teams tackles ... Played mostly on special teams as a rookie, finishing second on team in special teams tackles (10) ... Started 38 games for Michigan State over his final three seasons, and in 2013 he helped lead the Spartans to No. 1 national rankings in fewest yards allowed per game and lowest third-down conversion percentage.
Career transactions: Selected by Cincinnati in first round of 2014 NFL Draft (24th overall) ... Signed with Bengals on 6-12-14.
2015 highlights: Played in Games 1-10, but placed Nov. 27 on Reserve/Injured list, due to shoulder injury suffered in his first career start, Nov. 22 at Arizona ... On Sept. 13 at Oakland, had perfectly timed hit on WR Seth Davis for a third-down pass defensed, and also had three tackles ... On Oct 4 vs. Kansas City, helped fill the void from injury to Adam Jones, logging a season-best six tackles, plus a third-down pass defensed in fourth quarter that forced the Chiefs to settle for a 29-yard FG ... On Oct. 11 vs Seattle, logged two tackles and teamed with WR Brandon Tate to down a punt at the Seattle two in the second quarter ... Recorded first career INT on Oct. 18 at Buffalo with a graceful leaping grab of an E.J. Manuel pass in the second quarter, and he returned it 10 yards to Buffalo 45 ... On Nov. 22 at Arizona, logged two tackles before leaving game in early third quarter with shoulder injury.
2014: Played in 14 games (Games 2-7 and 9-16) as a rookie, and also played in Wild Card playoff at Indianapolis ... Inactive for Games 1 (hip) and 8 (hamstring) ... Logged seven tackles on defense (one for loss) in regular season ... Made NFL debut on Sept. 14 vs. Atlanta on special teams, with one tackle ... Played on defense for first time on Sept. 21 vs. Tennessee, and logged two tackles, including a three-yard sack of Jake Locker ... One tackle on defense, a pass defensed, and one special teams tackle on Nov. 16 at New Orleans ... Led team with two special teams tackles on Dec. 7 vs. Pittsburgh ... In Wild Card playoff on 1-5-15 at Indianapolis, had two tackles on defense and forced a fumble by RB Daniel Herron.
One game matters: Despite lettering four years at Twiggs County High School (Jeffersonville, Ga.) — and helping lead the team to an 11-2 record as a senior — Dennard went virtually unrecruited by colleges. He did not have a viable scholarship offer, even from a junior college, entering his final prep game. But fate cast him in that last game against Dooly County High and WR Keith Mumphrey, who had already signed with Michigan State. MSU assistant coaches, on hand to watch Mumphrey, saw Dennard post an outstanding performance against Mumphrey, and they convinced head coach Mark Dantonio to sign him. “I probably wouldn’t have played any more football (if not for that game),” Dennard says. “I’d still be around the Macon (Ga.) area, working a nine-to-five.”
College: Played four seasons (2010-13) at Michigan State, playing 44 games with 40 starts ... Started 38 games over his final three seasons, and in 2013 he helped lead the Spartans to No. 1 national rankings in fewest yards allowed per game and lowest third-down conversion percentage ... USA Today first-team All-American as senior in ’13, and was named winner of Thorpe Award, given annually to college football’s top DB ... Totaled 167 career tackles, 10 INTs, 30 total passes defensed, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a blocked FG ... Earned reputation as a strong tackler against the run ... In 2013, became first MSU CB to earn first-team All-America since Harlon Barnett (Cincinnati native from Princeton High School) in 1989 ... First MSU player to win the Thorpe Award since its 1986 inception.
Personal: Hometown is Dry Branch, Ga. ... Lettered in football, basketball and track at Twiggs County High School (Jeffersonville, Ga.) ... Two-way player in prep football, seeing action at WR and CB ... Communications major at Michigan State ... First name is pronounced “dar-KWEZ” and last name is pronounced “deh-NARD.”
Now that Vontaze Burfict has done it two years in a row you may have to start calling him one of those legendary Bengals in the cult figure realm. Burfict ended his three-game suspension in typical fashion Thursday night with a rambunctious, active night where he played all but 11 snaps in the 22-7 win over the Dolphins at Paul Brown Stadium.
A.J. Green gave his newborn son the shirt off his back Thursday night. But not before he undressed the Miami secondary on 10 catches for 173 yards and the Bengals’ lone touchdown to take the momentary lead in the NFL receiving yardage race heading into a weekend he’ll be getting to know Easton Ace Green while the others are trying catch his 468 yards.
Darqueze Dennard speaks in the Bengals locker room following the Bengals 34-21 victory over the Bills. Dennard recorded his first NFL interception as the Bengals advance to 6-0 on the season.