It seems to all that the Bengals are locked in at wide receiver. Nevertheless, there is a serious competition—a literal mob of people—trying out for wide receiver.
Sure, there are the givens: Chad "Mr. Personality" Ochocinco, Antonio "I'm Not Laveranues Coles" Bryant, and Andre "Mr. Anonymous" Caldwell.
After that you have the contenders: Quan "The Return Man Who Lives in Josh Cribbs' Shadow" Cosby, Jordan "The Next Wes Welker" Shipley, Dezmon "I'm Not That Guy in Dallas" Briscoe, Jerome "Underachiever Bart" Simpson, and Matt "A.A. Cured Me" Jones.
The fodder (unless someone did some serious work in the offseason) is: Freddie "John Doe" Brown (sorry, you are the odd man out).
The following is a preview of a training camp battle which has a lot more to it than meets the eye...
Drafted by Bengals in 2009 (seventh round), Brown saw preseason action in all four 2009 preseason games, only to be cut prior to the regular season. On November 10, 2009, Freddie came back as a member of the practice squad.
At Utah, Mr. Brown played two and a half seasons, with his most productive season being his senior year (77 receptions, 900 yards, and seven touchdowns).
Quan walked onto the Bengals as an undrafted rookie in 2009 and promptly found a place on the team.
Despite his small stature, Cosby was on the game day roster for all 16 games, returning 40 punts for 464 yards and 13 kickoffs for 239 yards.
Cosby saw limited action as a receiver, but his one key contribution was against the Chargers, where he filled in during pivotal drives with three critical receptions for 47 yards (averaging 15.67 yards per reception).
Cosby has the potential to continue with the team, but at 5'9", he will be challenged to stack up against NFL competition long-term.
Coming out of a five-year college career (first-year redshirt), Shipley is a mature rookie from a top-class Texas program.
Jordan's senior year was an impressive display, with 116 receptions, 1,485 yards, 12.8 yards per catch average, and 12 touchdowns. Not only that, but Shipley also returned two punts for touchdowns during a dynamic final year campaign.
This sixth-round, 22nd draft pick may be the hidden gem the Bengals have been looking for.
Leaving Kansas after a junior season which saw Dezmon catch 84 passes for 1,337 yards, a hefty 15.9 yards per catch average, and nine touchdowns, Briscoe could be an early participant or future mainstay for the Bengals.
To date, Simpson has been a disappointment, in that he has not been able to find his footing following his selection in the second round of the 2008 draft.
In two seasons, Simpson has only been on the roster for eight games with a single reception to go along with two paltry yards. Other than the aforementioned, Simpson has become a regular staple on the practice squad.
2010 may be the final chance for Simpson to emerge or divest from the team that still believes he has something to offer.
Matt Jones is this year's Cedric Benson (and before that, Chris Henry). Drafted 22nd overall in 2005, Jones never quite lived up to his potential in his prior four seasons.
A quarterback by trade, Matt Jones was drafted as a wide receiver to bring the Jaguars to the next level. Yet by 2009, no team would touch Jones after being arrested twice during the offseason for felony possession (immediately followed by his release in March 2009 by the Jags).
Yet in 2008, Jones compiled some interesting stats, catching 51 passes for 761 yards (though not what was expected for a primary receiver).
That's right. I said it: Andre Caldwell is a given. Even any fair-weather fan can see that Andre has shown steady and consistent growth—nothing exciting nor spectacular, just consistent.
Andre went from 11 receptions his first season to an impressive 51 in season two. Caldwell's 432 yards and 8.5 yards per reception in season two showed glimpses of a young(er) Chris Henry. Expect Caldwell to fully replace Henry this season and emerge from the "replacement player" stigma.
Antonio has the formidable task of proving that the Bengals' new consistent underachievement is not signing good wide receivers in name only. Laveranues Cole was a failure to say the least and Jerome Simpson has not panned out, despite the wide acclaim. Bryant will need to prove two things: 1. That he is the same receiver he was prior to his knee injury last year and; 2. that at 29, he is still young enough not only to contribute but to excel.
Additionally, Bryant has the challenge of not only filling in one of the open two primary receiver spots, but fighting off the comparisons to T.J. and Chris Henry.
Over seven seasons, Mr. Bryant's journey has taken him through four teams (Cincinnati is his fifth), averaging 11 games per season, 53 receptions per season, 812 yards per season, 15.4 yards per reception, 53 yards per game, 3.5 receptions per game, and a little over four touchdowns per season.
Count on this eighth-year pro to contribute heavily.
What cannot be said about Chad "Used to Be Johnson" Ochocinco. First, he was a problem child, but then he turned his skill at gaining attention towards positive self-promotion. As his personality has gained admiration larger than life, he continues to be a premier receiver.
As the Bengals' current number one receiver, Chad is the single-season record holder for total yards in a season (1440)—in fact, the top five seasons in Bengals' history. The Ocho also holds the team best average yards per game in a single season at 90, along with the next three best seasonal averages.
In terms of the Ocho's career with the Bengals, he is the all-time leader in receptions (684), yards (9,952), average receptions per game (5), average yards per game (72.6), and is one behind Carl Pickens for most touchdowns as a Bengal with 62.
In 2010, Chad will become the all-time greatest wide receiver in the history of the Cincinnati Bengals. Coming into his final guaranteed contract year, this six-time Pro Bowler (two seasons as a first-team all-pro) is expected only to excel so that Cincinnati picks up his option for the 2012 season and locks down a hefty contract beyond...