The Man-child returns…
Just three seasons ago Henry burst onto the scene in Cincinnati as a big-time scoring threat in the red-zone. In his second season with the team Henry caught just 36 balls, but found pay-dirt nine times. In his first two years with the Bengals Henry totaled 15 touchdowns and appeared to be a star on the rise.
Henry is your prototypical NFL receiver with great size standing at 6'4", good hands and big play ability. In his first two seasons with the team he averaged a score every 4.5 catches and over 15-yards per reception. And just when it appeared that the Bengals had themselves a jewel of a find in Henry, the trouble started.
Despite the early success, Henry's second season (2006) would be marred with a five game suspension that would just be the beginning of more bad things to come. In 2007 due to off the field issues Henry began the 2007 season by serving an eight game suspension.
Following an arrest in April of 2008 Henry would be released by the team and seemingly be looking at the end of his short NFL career.
It was nothing short of misfortune and bad luck for the Bengals that would give Henry another shot at being an NFL receiver.
Even after head coach Marvin Lewis had expressed the team had no interest in re-signing Henry, with multiple injuries depleting their receiving corp and Henry having served his second suspension (four games) to start the 2008 season, the Bengals gave the oft troubled receiver another chance.
A chance that at first looked like nothing more than a temporary stop for Henry, who's future seemed to be poisoned with bad choices and destined to fail. Henry finished last season with less than modest numbers and was likely off everyone’s radar heading toward the offseason.
A Second Chance:
It was during the offseason that change began. Henry was refocused and determined to change his outlook and more importantly his future. According to teammates Henry was working everyday with a great attitude and having an offseason like no other.
So the change began and the result this training camp has been, Henry always viewed as a talent in the game is suddenly beginning to realize his potential and making the most of his opportunity.
Henry has looked impressive in practice and made the most of his opportunities. He was getting more first team snaps during the team’s OTA’s in the offseason and carrying this over into training camp where he has just been a beast.
To this point, while Ochocinco has begun to show his old form, Henry clearly has been the standout in camp and his early numbers are showing his complete metamorphisis. In the team’s first two preseason games Henry has pulled down 11 passes for 155-yards and has been turning heads along the way with every snap.
With the return of number 85 and Palmer healthy, Henry is looking like this year’s early “big” sleeper candidate. He’s back with his old team and he’s had a whole offseason to work and improve and clearly it appears that’s just what he has done.
Last season there was no chemistry and for both the team and Chris it was not an ideal situation. 2009 looks to be quite the opposite with all signs pointing towards an improved Bengals team that consists of a marriage of misfits, a castaway, and plenty of talent to be successful.
Coming off a very quiet 2008, just 19 receptions and two touchdowns, Henry has likely begun the 2009 campaign as big fantasy secret. Only now is he starting to draw attention and create interest. Laveranues Coles may have been brought in to compensate for some of the lost production from TJ Houshmandzadeh’s departure, but don’t be fooled; it will be Henry picking up most of the slack.
His initial fantasy impact is already being noticed. Folks must remember, his first 15 touchdown catches in his first two seasons came off the arm of Carson Palmer. Henry looks like a new player in camp and both he and Palmer appear to be in sync.
Coles is projected to start opposite Ochocinco, but with Henry playing as well as he is fantasy owners might just have to consider him the team’s third starting receiver, until he takes the No. 2 spot. We may be reading too deep into the numbers this early, but with Henry looking as good as he does and a healthy Palmer, he’s going to be huge in 2009.
The man-child appears to be rocketing up the boards, but fantasy owners will likely still be able to snatch him up in the mid-rounds as their number three receiver. As long as all things keep pointing forward and Henry continues to work and do the things necessary, he’s a solid bet to finish the season as a solid number two fantasy receiver.
Keep him on your draft board, he’ll be worth picking up!