Back on Bengals' roster bubble, Devon Still believes he's made the team

Defensive tackle Devon Still had three total tackles in the past two preseason games. AP Photo/John Minchillo

CINCINNATI -- Saturday morning cannot come fast enough for Devon Still.

That should be when the Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle learns if he made the team's 53-man roster once again. At that moment, he will find out if all the weight he lost and offseason conditioning he went through was worth it.

"They just need to come and let me know something," Still said Monday afternoon, laughing. "Just tell me."

He may be impatient to learn his fate this year, but much of that stems from his belief that he has done enough this preseason to make the team.

"I came out here to just try to prove myself during this training camp, and I think I did a good job of that," said Still, who lost 27 pounds this offseason. "I showed the coaches what I’m able to do, and I know just from my years being here that it's about consistency; to go out there and to continue to compete every single down and not take plays off."

That approach is a bit of a change from where things stood nearly 365 days ago, when the writing was on the wall for the 2012 second-round pick. A hamstring injury in the Bengals' third preseason game at Arizona effectively ended his chance at making the roster. He was already on the fringe after trying to return from a back injury and dislocated elbow from the year before. So it wasn't too surprising when his name was announced among Cincinnati's final round of preseason cuts.

He never lost his locker, though. A day after he was cut last preseason, Still was added to the Bengals' practice squad. Cincinnati's decision to keep him was rooted in merit, but it ended up being a smart public relations move for the team, too. Still's then-4-year-old daughter Leah was in the middle of a bout with a Stage 4 pediatric cancer that was about to leave the family with more than $1 million in medical bills. By remaining on the practice squad, Still could keep his league health benefits, making it dramatically easier to afford her treatments.

The team later raised more than $1.2 million for pediatric research efforts through a sale of Still's No. 75 jersey.

In March, Leah went into remission. She remains that way.

Earlier this offseason, Bengals defensive line coach Jay Hayes said any decision regarding releasing or keeping Still this fall would hinge solely upon performance.

"The whole thing of who is the best guy is about who is the best guy. This is the NFL. That's what this is about," Hayes said. "It's not about who had the hardest road. That's not how this is built. We are just trying to put the best guys out there."

Still believes he has done enough to be one of those players.

Ahead of Thursday's preseason finale at Indianapolis, Still has started standing out more in the crowded defensive tackle room. He has three total tackles in the past two preseason games, and has even drawn rave reviews from websites like Pro Football Focus. He held the Bengals' third-highest PFF grade in last Monday's loss at Tampa Bay.

"I feel like I've put good enough tape out there that I have a good chance to make this ballclub," Still said. "And if not, then I'll have an opportunity to play somewhere else."