Drew Sample is 100 percent healthy and hoping to make an impact for the Bengals this season
Drew Sample's rookie season was less than ideal for everyone involved.
He only played in nine games, finishing with five receptions for 30 yards. The Bengals posted a 2-14 record, which was their worst season since 2002.
Sample's rookie campaign was cut short after he suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Ravens in Week 10.
"I was starting to really adjust to it. Obviously it's a big jump from college to the NFL," Sample told Dan Hoard on the Bengals Booth Podcast. "I was definitely getting more comfortable just seeing things. The game was starting to slow down a little bit."
There's nowhere to go but up for the 2019 second-round pick. He only played in 9.81 percent of the Bengals' offensive snaps last season.
The ankle injury didn't get in the way of his offseason workout regimen.
"I would say I was fully healthy a month or so after the season," Sample said. "I was kinda able to come into this offseason pretty much fully healthy. So it gave me a full offseason, plus obviously we've had a lot of extra time with the coronavirus and so I feel really good."
Sample should have an expanded role this season. Tyler Eifert signed with the Jaguars in free agency, which opens up nearly 500 snaps on offense.
The 24-year-old is training with defensive end Sam Hubbard this offseason.
"We've been working out at Black Sheep Performance. It's up in Blue Ash," Sample said. "It's been nice to workout with someone like Sam. We can really push each other. I think we compliment each other well in workouts. Obviously on the field — going against each other a lot in practice — I think it's a nice competition. It's a good little rivalry."
Sample and his wife Angelina have spent most of the offseason in Cincinnati. They had their first child last August and have another one on the way.
Staying in town allowed the growing family to spend more time together without taking away from Sample's training program.
"We've been able to navigate it really well," he said. "This year's been great just because we really stepped back and looked at the details of everything. It allowed us to put a lot of time into the things that might get overlooked by some people. I feel really happy with the work that we put in this offseason and I'm excited for the season."
Sample and the rest of the Bengals' veterans finished their virtual offseason program on Thursday. The rookies have one more week of Zoom meetings with coaches before they're dismissed.
The second-year tight end thinks the virtual offseason was productive.
"Zac (Taylor) did a really good job of keeping everyone together," Sample said. "There's some days when you have a little more fun than others, but I would say overall, we got through a lot of installs.
"Coach Taylor did a great job of making sure everyone was locked in. I think we just were able to make the best of it and I think it's definitely going to pay off."
Sample is comfortable, confident and hopes to make an impact in year two.
"I just want to go out and play my game and show people the type of player that I know I am," Sample said. "We didn't have a great season last year. I know all the guys in our room, in on offense, just on our team want to show everyone that we didn't put our best foot forward. I think guys are really excited to go out and show the type of players we are and show the type of team we are this year."
Listen to Hoard's entire interview with Sample on the Bengals Booth Podcast: