Who better to ask about the prospects of Bengals rookie receiver Jordan Shipley than one of the men with whom he has been endlessly compared?
“He’s only compared to Wes Welker because he’s white and to me because he’s in Cincinnati and he plays the slot,” said T.J. Houshmandzadeh with a laugh the other day.
“I liked what I saw of him in college. I think he’s ahead of most guys coming out when it comes to playing the slot because that’s where he played a lot. He knows the linebackers are going to try and re-direct him. He knows what to do in the middle of the field. People are going to be closer to him because he’s not in a spread offense like he was in college and he’ll have to get used to that. I played the slot a little bit in college, but not much. I had to learn play it on the fly (with the Bengals).”
Houshmandzadeh, the Bengals’ third all-time leading receiver before leaving via free agency last season, heads into his second season in Seattle and 10th in the NFL vowing to erase last year. After catching 79 balls at 11.5 yards per catch for three touchdowns, he has been re-energized by the new offensive coordinator head coach Pete Carroll brought in, former Broncos offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates, a year older than Houshmandzadeh at a soon to be 34.
Houshmandzadeh, recovering from a sports hernia surgery, could have practiced the last couple of weeks instead of just running routes and catching the ball. But this week Bates told him to forget it because he needs him for the real season and he needed to give time to a slew of guys jockeying for the No. 2 and No. 3 jobs.
“Pete is like Marvin,” Houshmandzadeh said of his old Bengals head coach, Marvin Lewis. “If you’re back in three weeks, how come you weren’t back in two? But the offensive coordinator is really cool.”
And Bates, who showed his Denver receivers Houshmandzadeh’s Bengals’ tapes, also told him something he’s never heard before. He’s going to give him the chance to win the No. 1 job.
“I can’t wait,” Houshmandzadeh said. “He’s putting that on me and I’m ready to go. That means 100 catches should be the minimum.”
Houshmandzadeh doesn’t know how many catches Shipley is going to get his rookie year, but he thinks he’ll have a better chance to get more than Houshmandzadeh’s 21 catches for 228 yards in 2001 simply because he’s a third-round pick.
“If you’re smart and you know what you’re doing and you’re better than the guy in front of you, you’ll be OK,” said Houshmandzadeh, a seventh-rounder. “If I’d been drafted higher, I would have played. They’re going to say, ‘He’s a rookie receiver,’ and all that. It doesn’t matter. You still have to get open and you still have to catch it.”
His advice to Shipley:
“There are times he’s going to struggle, but all you have to do is understand what you’re doing and understand what they’re trying to do to you. If you understand those two things, it’s going to make it easier for you.”
He’s watching the competition keenly because he says among Shipley, Andre Caldwell, The Ocho, and Antonio Bryant, “There’s going to be an odd man out…That should be a good receiver competition.”
Houshmandzadeh is hearing the questions nationally about Bengals quarterback Carson Palmer and shakes his head.
“Carson is a beast,” Houshmandzadeh said. “I’ve thrown with Pro Bowl quarterbacks. I’ve thrown with Super Bowl quarterbacks. You talk about release and arm, and Carson is a beast. He never throws a receiver under the bus when he throws an interception and it’s not his fault.”
He thinks Palmer has a big year this year “if they run the ball like they did last year. It’s going to be interesting. Everybody is scouting the Bengals now after going 6-0 in the division. Everybody is looking to pick up something to stop it.”
Tags: houshmandzadeh talks shipley
Posted in Hobson's Choice | 12 Comments »