Like all of the rookies in training camp, defensive tackle Terrence Stephens is hoping to impress Marvin.
Roughly six years ago, his goal was to impress Simon.
The undrafted free agent out of Stanford is undoubtedly the only member of the Bengals who has auditioned for American Idol.
“I was 16 and it was something that I had always wanted to do,” Stephens told me. “I didn’t get as far as I wanted to, but it was an interesting experience to say the least.”
Terrence auditioned in front of producers for the show but didn’t advance far enough to sing for Simon, Paula, and Randy. But last week while the Bengals were practicing in Atlanta, he belted out the Luther Vandross hit “Superstar” (most famously performed by The Carpenters) for a different group of judges.
“I guess Coach Lewis found out that I can sing from word of mouth,” said Stephens. “So he called me up at the beginning of a team meeting and put me on the spot.”
“Everybody was looking for somebody to make fun of or to rip on, but he impressed everybody,” said wide receiver Ryan Whalen. “He got a standing ovation.”
The “standing O” came as no surprise to a pair of former Stanford teammates.
“Everybody has the ability to sing, but he can SING – you know what I’m saying?” said rookie cornerback Terrence Brown. “In our freshman year in college, he came out and sang at a talent show and that’s what everybody knew him for – the person on the team that could sing.”
“He’s always singing to himself in the locker room,” said Whalen. “I think he was in an a capella group at Stanford and really likes to sing.”
“I did some things during college that allowed me to keep up with the craft,” Stephens told me. “You can ask these guys – I pretty much sing all of the time. I’ve had fun with it.”
Stephens started 20 games at Stanford and earned a contract with the Bengals after an impressive tryout in the team’s rookie minicamp. My broadcast partner Dave Lapham was impressed with his play in the preseason opener in Atlanta, but Terrence wasn’t satisfied.
“I’m really hard on myself,” said Stephens. “I graded out OK for being in my first NFL game, but at the end of the day I was not happy with my performance. I’m looking forward to this week’s game and getting a chance to dominate. I think that’s what is expected out of me. Even being an undrafted rookie guy, I’m looking to be a force in the middle.”
The Bengals have one of the deepest and most talented defensive lines in the NFL, so barring injuries, Stephens best chance to stick with the team is probably as one of eight members of the practice squad.
“I’m blessed because this is such an experience to be here around people who really care for you individually,” said Stephens. “From Michael Johnson to AC (Anthony Collins) to Andre Smith to Domata (Peko), these guys really take care of you. I feel like it’s a big family. It’s probably a bit premature, but I’m looking forward to being part of it.”
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