Cincinnati Bengals: Andre Caldwell Has an Opportunity to Become No. 2 Receiver

Matt Gray@mattkgrayContributor ISeptember 22, 2011

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 20:  Wide receiver Andre Caldwell #87 of Cincinnati Bengals goes up for a catch against the San Diego Chargers during the NFL game on December 20, 2009 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

When the 2011 season kicked off, Andre Caldwell found himself fourth on the Bengals list of receivers, behind A.J. Green, Jerome Simpson and Jordan Shipley respectively.

On Sunday, following a season-ending injury to Jordan Shipley, Caldwell became the team's No. 3 option—a spot he is more than capable of filling, and filling well.

Fast-forward to today, and with news that Jerome Simpson has landed himself in a whole heap of trouble with the law, Caldwell has the opportunity to move up to the No. 2 spot.

Caldwell is currently in the final year of his rookie contract and is very much playing for a new deal. With the possibility that he could move up to the second receiver spot opposite Green, Caldwell could have ample opportunity to impress his coaches and stake his claim to be a No. 2 receiver going forward.

While the news about Simpson remains hazy and we don't want to speculate too much, what we do know so far certainly doesn't bode well for the young star.

With possible violations of the league's personal conduct policy and substance-abuse policy, plus legal action, Marvin Lewis and company might be best to cut Jerome Simpson if established reports become facts in the coming hours/days.

Caldwell has seen prior action at the No. 2 spot, having played opposite Jerome Simpson in the latter part of the 2010 season when Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens limped off the field with injuries.

In that time, he racked up 15 catches for 270 yards. A very respectable performance indeed. He also came through in the dying moments in victories over Pittsburgh and Baltimore in 2009, with two TD efforts to lock up victories and an AFC North title.

'People always put me on the back burner but I always keep fighting, keep going. I’ve got my chance and now have to make the most of it,' Caldwell said before Wednesday’s practice. 'I get a little discouraged but don’t let it show. I just keep working, I let my game talk for me and that’s what I’m going to do the next couple I get a chance to show the world what I can do.'

The question of who steps up to fill the slot remains to be seen. Rookie Ryan Whalen, who impressed during camp and in the preseason, could get the nod. That is, if it doesn't go to Andrew "Little Hawk" Hawkins, who was promoted to the 53-man roster in the wake of Jordan Shipley's injury.