- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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CINCINNATI -- The Bengals' competition at strong safety was expected to be a battle between Taylor Mays and Jeromy Miles. But there was another player seeing time at that spot during Wednesday's practice -- veteran cornerback Nate Clements.
It's unknown whether this is an experiment or if the Bengals are thinking of starting Clements at safety. The Bengals definitely want to see what Clements looks like at that spot because he split his snaps on the first-team defense at cornerback and safety.
This could be a way of extending the career of the 32-year-old Clements, who is a strong tackler. It would allow the Bengals a chance of getting their five best defensive backs on the field. The Bengals have been looking for a strong safety since releasing Chris Crocker in early April.
Clements, who has played 12 seasons at cornerback, said it's not up to him that he's in the mix to be a starting safety. Asked if he was comfortable at safety, Clements said after practice, "As long as I'm on the field, I'm comfortable."
When Clements moved back to safety, the Bengals used Adam Jones and Terence Newman at corner, while Leon Hall covered the slot. While Clements said it's different to play safety, it's not a major adjustment for him.
"Whatever coach wants me to do and asks me to do, I have to make sure as a player that I know my responsibilities and know all the positions," he said. "As a cornerback, I learned early on to study all the positions in the defensive secondary so I would know where my help is and when I'm able to take that calculated risk. The difference is now I'm playing the positions."
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has done this move before. When he was the defensive coordinator for the Ravens, he switched Rod Woodson from cornerback to safety. Woodson went on to go to four Pro Bowls at safety.
Clements is in the final year of a two-year, $10.5 million contract.