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It seems, for now at least, that Jordan Shipley is not ready to play football.
Despite being taken off the PUP list, it appears Shipley will not be stepping back into the first unit as some might have expected.
Shipley has seemed rusty since joining full practices one week ago, and Jay Gruden pulled no punches speaking about the former Longhorn wideout last week (via Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer):
"He's a little behind, not mentally but physically. He has to get in better shape and get more reps. I don't think he's where he was before the injury yet. I'm not saying he won't be in a week or two or three. It takes awhile to have that confidence to explode off of it. The more he works in individual and team it will come."
The removal of Shipley from the PUP list indicates that at some point in the next month (health-providing) he could supplant Andrew Hawkins, but with the Bengals staff skeptical about his recovery, Hawkins has a real opportunity to take the job and run with it.
Hawkins had an impressive year in 2011, and his stats do not do his contribution justice. With a sure pair of hands and an agile frame, Hawkins was invaluable to the Bengals in short yardage and on third down.
It will be interesting to see if Hawkins can be as successful with an expanded role in 2012 since his success in 2011 came because of the change of pace he provided, having often been left out of opponents' game plans.