CINCINNATI -- If the Cincinnati Bengals end up drafting a defensive end this weekend, that player will have his share of competition when training camp begins in July.
Not only will he be working out behind Carlos Dunlap, Robert Geathers, Wallace Gilberry and Margus Hunt, but he also will be practicing with Christo Bilukidi, a late-2013 addition, and offseason adds Sam Montgomery and Dontay Moch. Moch, who played outside linebacker in Arizona's 3-4 base defense last season, said earlier this week he was back in Cincinnati to play on the defensive line.
"Here, I'm playing D-end," said Moch, a former Bengals draft pick who is now in his second tour in stripes. "Doing what I do best. I'm pass-rushing and getting out there and putting my skills to the test."
There will be no dearth of bodies at defensive end this fall for the Bengals.
What the team will be looking for though is quality talent and quality depth throughout the position group. As the team expects to mix in even more rotating fronts and 3-4 packages in its base 4-3 scheme, it will be looking for as many versatile rush ends as possible. That's why having linemen with an outside linebacker's understanding of the defense could give the Bengals even more of an edge when putting pressure on the opposition. That's among the reasons Moch and Montgomery could end up having key roles at end alongside the four already in the regular rotation.
One of the hallmarks of Cincinnati's defense under previous defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer was its ability to get to the quarterback. The Bengals' defensive line ranks eighth among all lines in sacks since 2008, the year Zimmer started. As an overall defense, they rank 18th in sacks collected since 2008. Like Dunlap said two weeks ago, though, a lot of the defense's blitz schemes were crafted by Paul Guenther, the former linebackers coach who was promoted to defensive coordinator in January. That's one reason why you shouldn't be surprised to see Moch and Montgomery rushing off the edge on occasion.
"A lot of our creative defenses came from Guenther," Dunlap said. "He brought Zim into the new era of football, I guess you could say."
Moch remembers how Guenther coached when he was on the roster before. He believes that Guenther's teaching methods can help him get on the field more this time around.
"He tries to break it down for anybody to understand," Moch said. "Any Joe Blow can come off the street and learn the system the way he teaches it. He tries to make sure he puts it out in a perspective for each person to learn because everyone learns differently. He'll draw it up and he'll tell you and he'll put it in football terms for you, whichever way you can learn."
From the moment in mid-March when head coach Marvin Lewis told Moch the Bengals wanted him back, the defender began reshaping his body to play defensive end. After playing at 260-plus pounds his first two seasons in the league with the Bengals, he slimmed down to 240 pounds last season to better fit Arizona's plans at outside linebacker. The lowered weight made him a little faster, and better able to rush from his deeper stand-up position. Upon his return to the Queen City two weeks ago, Moch began working his way back to his current 255.
"Once they told me I was coming back here, I just started putting the weight back on. Weight regimen, eating regimen," Moch said.
To gain the pounds so quickly, he ate 8-10 times a day and worked out two or three times a day.
Whether the eating and weightlifting is worth it remains to be seen. Moch is only on a one-year contract and will have to prove himself once camp opens. When it does, he doesn't care if he ends up getting moved back to outside linebacker or rotates between the line and the secondary. He just wants to play.
"My career has always been as a rush-end or a blitzer and I've always enjoyed it," Moch said. "No matter where I'm coming from -- the backfield or the sides or even from deep down safety -- you put me there, I'll get it done."