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CINCINNATI (AP) - It is a long trip from Dry Branch, Georgia to Cincinnati, Ohio but that is the football path taken by Darqueze Dennard.

The Cincinnati Bengals selected Dennard, a defensive back from Michigan State, with the 24th overall pick in Thursday night's NFL draft.

Dennard won the Jim Thorpe Award given to the nation's top defensive back. He should fit into a group that's starting to show some age.

The Bengals' defense finished third in the league last season, but needs some help, especially at cornerback.

Leon Hall is recovering from a torn Achilles tendon. Terence Newman and Adam "Pacman" Jones turn 36 and 31 this year, respectively.

They also need help on the line. Defensive end Michael Johnson left as a free agent, signing with Tampa Bay. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins is recovering from a torn knee ligament and it's unclear when he'll be ready to return.

Dennard played high school football at Twiggs County.

The Bengals play the Falcons September 14 in Cincinnati.

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