CINCINNATI - Marvin Lewis hopes a change of scenery is all Sam Montgomery needs to maximize the potential that made him a third-round draft pick in 2013.
The former LSU standout signed Friday with the Bengals to help bolster their front seven heading into training camp. It'll also give the former All-American a chance to prove he's worthy of an NFL roster spot.
While listed as a defensive end in a release from the organization, the 6-foot-3, 262-pound pass rusher played linebacker for the Texans, which drafted him out of LSU with the 95th overall draft selection.
Montgomery never found his niche with the Texans and was listed as a gameday inactive on the roster for Games 1-7. The team waived him and two other players Oct. 22 for an unspecified violations of team rules prior to a game in Kansas City.
Oakland Raiders signed Montgomery to its practice squad Dec. 18 but they cut him three days later.
New Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther looks to find a way to incorporate the hybrid DE/LB into a 4-3 defensive scheme that lost Pro-Bowler Michael Johnson to Tampa Bay in free agency.
While scouts considered him "tweener," Montgomery is projected as a defensive end for the Bengals, the team indicated in its news release.
CBS Sports wrote the following about him prior to the 2013 NFL Draft.
"(He possesses) a lanky frame with long arms and plenty of room for additional muscle mass, especially considering his terrific speed. Flashes a quick burst off the snap and accelerates very smoothly for a man of his size, demonstrating the ability to track down elusive ball-carriers from behind," according to his draft profile.
The player analysis also notes his "high effort," ability to "play with strength" and his recovery from a knee injury in 2010.
His weaknesses are his reaction time and his ability to disengage offensive linemen, as well as his inability to change direction, according to his draft profile.
"Too often is slow off the snap, ranking, in fact, as the final player to react off the ball much of the time. Struggles a bit to disengage from blocks when he's initially contained. Flashes a quick spin back to the inside but otherwise is a bit reliant on his speed and bull rushes. He does not possess elite flexibility to dip under the reach of talented pass protectors and while possessing long, strong arms doesn't consistently keep his hands working to break free. Too often he's locked up and doesn't break until the ball has passed him. Struggles changing directions due to stiffness in his hips and can be left in the dust by elusive ball-carriers who see him coming. Reacts late to cut blocks and too often is negated by them."
Montgomery was a three-year standout for LSU from 2010-12, helping the Tigers to an overall 34-6 record and a berth in the 2011 BCS National Championship game (lost to Alabama).
He recorded 19.0 sacks, tied for sixth in program history, in just 31 career games. The former college All-American (2011) also had 32.5 tackles-for-loss.