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Philosophy at receiver

Posted by hobsonschoice1 on August 24, 2010 – 7:36 am

Even before Monday, Bengals wide receivers coach Mike Sheppard had to agree that the battle for the last few spots at his position is murky. A tossup where there are no clear-cut guys stepping up to round out what will be a six-man field.

“That’s fair,” Sheppard said. “Everybody has done something good. And then there have been some unfortunate things like Maurice (Purify) getting hurt.”

Purify’s knee tendinitis has shelved him for the last two games and he was down Monday, a devastating blow for a guy trying to prove he can consistently produce on special teams. But Purify wasn’t the only receiver on the bubble Monday who was out. Matt Jones didn’t dress and while Andre Caldwell may not be on the bubble, he hasn’t dressed either in a week he’s looking to reassert himself.

And then there is the $10 million elephant in the room. With the final preseason game just nine days away, there has been no sign of Antonio Bryant (knee) on the field. The injured guys that are on the side rehabbing usually do some running early in practice when it is open to the media. Bryant wasn’t out there Monday. Maybe he came out later, but it is another indication that things aren’t going the way they hoped with him.

Do they cut their losses?

It is hard to see anyone eating $10 million. It is harder still to see them cut a younger, healthier receiver. It would appear if they do keep him, they would almost have to go with seven receivers at this point. Can they do that when they already have to go one extra at running back because of Brian Leonard’s injury?

What we think we know is that these four guys are here: The Ocho, T.O., Caldwell, and Jordan Shipley. So with no Bryant you’ve got a scrum with Jones, Purify, Quan Cosby, Jerome Simpson and Dez Briscoe for two spots. With Bryant, just one of them makes it.

The guys who are supposed to have the edge are Jones and Simpson because they are bigger, taller, and can make plays down the field. Jones has disappeared after his big opener and there is concern about his speed. Simpson continues to flash, but inconsistently. The classic example is last Friday night’s fumble after a 20-yard-plus play. The good and the bad. Plus, the coaches are still looking for more when it comes to executing his assignments.

It always keeps coming back to Cosby. He has been the most productive on the field with his special teams work. It would seem they would have no use for his punt returning skills because they now have cornerback Adam Jones and Shipley. Jones and Shipley can also return kicks, but running back Bernard Scott is the guy.

Yet Cosby does other things on special teams, like tackle and block, which a No. 5 receiver is supposed to do. The knock is he’s too small and too slow to do anything from scrimmage, but Sheppard thinks he can.

“He’s rarely been wrong. He’s very smart and he backs up every position,” Sheppard said. “So he’s dependable and when you call on him to make plays, he does.”

So do they sacrifice potential big plays for say, a Simpson, and go with dependability in a guy like Cosby? When you’ve got guys that can do what Cosby already does and Simpson does have some rare qualities, what do you do? It sounds like a philosophy final instead of Cutdown Day. There may be no right and wrong, but your essay better back up your choice.

And then there is Briscoe. If he doesn’t make it, the prediction is he’ll be gone off waivers and forget the practice squad. So maybe he’s a guy that has to make it. They like what he’s shown so far (route running, hands), but he doesn’t turn 21 until a week from Tuesday and he’s raw.

It would be good for Caldwell, too, to get something done in games. Hard to see them cutting him because of his speed and his ability to play all three spots and he looked great early in camp when Carson Palmer was throwing to him. But he’s been hard to find with the backup QBs in the second half.

Two games left and they’re right where they were the opening night of camp when Bryant went to the sidelines and T.O. showed up. It is competition they wanted and they got it.


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Posted in Hobson's Choice | 26 Comments »


26 Responses to “Philosophy at receiver”

  1. By cje11 on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    Antonio Bryant is awful for this team…how did our medical examiners not pick up on this knee condition BEFORE he signed the contract?! The stupid decision to let him practice keeps him off the PUP list (if I’m not mistaken), so now we’re potentially sacrificing depth at other positions because of him. You guys say you like his competitive fire, but many fans knew that once he got paid he would relax and stop working hard, as he always has. This situation seems to have been screwed immensely up by multiple people in this organization. Everything about it stinks.

  2. By keem513 on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    The only thing that concerns me is injury, say if a couple receivers go down, we already made our cuts and now were back at the drawing board. The downfall is most likely these guys will be picked up somewhere else and then we are left with going to free agency and possibly picking up a not as talented receiver who is unfamiliar with our system, Not a good look especially in the middle of the season

  3. By kimmelp on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    The six I’d keep are Ocho, T.O., Caldwell, Shipley, Cosby, and one of (Purify / Briscoe). Jones has done very little and Simpson has had a few years to grow but still can’t get on the field. I haven’t seen enough from Purify or Briscoe to decide who is better.

    I would put Bryant on the PUP list and let him get healthy. I know he will miss the first 6 games but I don’t think the Bengals want to burn the 10 mil and Bryant hasn’t been able to play (which led them to get T.O. in the first place).

  4. By oshi76 on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    I don’t see how Caldwell doesn’t make the team. He showed he can be a solid #3 receiver last year. As for Simpson, as much as I’d hate to see the talent go away, he just hasn’t grasped the game yet and it makes no sense to keep a project on the roster when there are guys who are already show they can can execute. I don’t see us keeping Jones because all he has is a few “flashes” which is all he has really produced since being in the league. Cosby is so versatile and reliable (as stated in in your article) it seems like he would be someone you have to keep. The final spot would have to go to Briscoe I think. I mean seriously if the biggest knock on the guy is his age and being “raw”, wouldn’t we better off keeping him over Simpson, especially if the coaches feel like he is picking things up? Regardless, with Gresham on the field it has to make life easier for one of the receivers and I’m guessing the biggest benfactor is going to be whoever lines up at #3.

  5. By phlockar on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    We’ve had enough trouble letting a second round pick go(Simpson) let alone our prized free agent from this year(Bryant)…talk about a pickle.

    My opinion is let Simpson finally leave. He’s been given plenty of opportunities and done nothing with them. We were in such desperation last year for a WR and he was nowhere to be found.
    Now we have plenty of competition and we’re talking about him possibly making the team?!

    I’ve heard he has all the talent in the world, but not a single person outside of the organization has seen it. Unless you went to Coastal Carolina 4 years ago.

  6. By 2ndboot on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    Eenie Meenie Miney Moe, huh? (that all really jumps up on spell check, but you get the gist I think) I still think if they cut Super Glue Cosby they have GOT to be out of their minds and I MIGHT even stop following the Bengals in favor of whatever team immediately signs him if they cut him..even though that would be a mighty leap of faith I’m not likely to make. I can live without Jones and Purify and what lame brain signed 10 million guaranteed to get Bryant? Before I signed anyone for that money he would be able to leap over tall buildings beforehand no questions asked, but maybe that’s why I don’t own a football team.. Geeeez Loise.. How about next time they make darn sure the guy can cut the mustard without a spoon?

  7. By rparr32 on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    Wow!!!! It is not a bad thing to have so much depth, but man what a decision. I just really hope they keep Cosby. The kid can flat out play. He may not have all of the NFL player specs, but the guy is a pure football player that has game changing ability. We saw him do it a couple times last year. I like TO, Chad, Shipley, Caldwell, Cosby, and Briscoe. I think you release Jones, Bryant, and Simpson. What about a trade? Safety or an Olineman? Jones is big yes, but so is TO, Gresham and Briscoe. Jones looks slow to me and I dont think Bryant will ever be 100 percent again. Simpson is the tough one. What do you do there? I am confused, but give the current edge to Briscoe because he seems to grasp things better and has just as much talent.

  8. By theredbengal on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    So, if Ocho, TO, Shipley, and Caldwell are the 4 locks with 2 spots to go, then here is my two cents on the matter ( I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath).

    -Matt Jones- cut. He looked like he might make a run for a job during the pre-preseason game VS. the ‘Boys, but since hasn’t shown up.
    -Purify- cut. If you can’t stay on the field, don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
    -Jerome Simpson- cut. Tremendous talent. But he can’t translate it to the field. 3 offseasons under his belt, and it just isn’t working. As I said before, if he couldn’t sniff the field last year when the offense so desperately needed another receiver, then why would it be different this year? He also offers nothing on special teams.
    -Briscoe- cut. He was a novelty pick. A nice idea, but a 21 year old rookie WR is way too raw to be counted on.
    -Cosby- makes it. How can he not? Great special teamer, regardless if he’s a returner or not. He’s just a reliable guy. Not to mention did get some work at WR last year, and looked fine. I remember a certain 3rd and long reception that brought the Bengals back into FG range against the Chargers late in the 4th Q of that game.
    -A. Bryant- the guy makes the team. It would be too much egg on their faces if he didn’t, for one, and two, even if he is not active until mid september to early october, he beats all of the other guys in the running for the 6th spot by a longshot. He swore he’d make it worth the Bengals while this year, and I believe the guy. He can be one of the 8 guys they inactivate until he’s ready to go.

    Ocho, TO, Shipley, Caldwell, Cosby, Bryant.

  9. By looking4sb1 on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    Is it possible to put Antonio Bryant on IR for the year? In my opinion, he’s too good to just let go — especially when he’s probably got about five good years left. But I can’t see us keeping him on the 53-man roster this year if Marvin never knows if his knee is going to be ready from week to week. I feel like we simply need to invest in the time for him to heal properly. That way we don’t run into the same situation that the Bucs did last year when Bryant was only playing in every other game because of his knee.

    If we put Bryant on IR, that would give more time for the younger talent to develop and get experience. T.O. gives us the number 2 option (sometimes number 1) that Bryant was supposed to become this year anyways.

    I say shelve Antonio until next year if he’s not ready. Keep Ocho, Owens, Shipley, Caldwell, Cosby and Simpson. That would give us the best healthy players and allow them to keep working on Simpson (because I have to admit, he does show flashes of becomeing a possible number one someday). Another option, in this scenario would be to offer Cosby as trade bait before final cuts. I’m sure there are many teams out there who would love to have a punt returner as productive as he is. I’m guessing we could possibly get better O-line depth at guard/center or a 5th or 6th round draft pick. Then we could keep Briscoe to develop for the future (Ocho, Owens, Shipley, Caldwell, Simpson, Briscoe).

    What are the chances of any of these scenarios happening?

  10. By tide182 on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    1) totally agree that the antonio bryant thing has become a debacle. theres no point in belaboring this over the message boards as the story is well known, but you simply have to agree with the previous statements varying between abject horror and complete befuddlement as to how on earth this guy was cleared to sign and then inexplicably practice voiding him from PUP. still, i think if theres any chance this guy can play by the halfway point or so you’ve got to keep him on the roster, he’s too big of a potential playmaker.

    2) if they keep bryant, i somewhat agree with hob that they will take 7 wideouts. if thats the case, im not sure how matt jones even has a sniff. the guy is some combination of older, more expensive, and less of a factor on special teams than the rest of the group and let’s be honest, that upside isn’t all that high to begin with. the 6 not counting bryant have to be, in my mind and in order, Ocho, TO, Shipley, Caldwell (who i think is definitely being sold short by the fans), cosby and simpson. cosby adds a lot on special teams and im not sure you go nuts “saving a roster spot” for a wideout you took in the 6th round or whatever it was. briscoe is a nice project, sure, but he can be a nice project on the practice squad or he can be someone else’s nice project. why don’t we let our previous 2nd round project try to build on some of the flashes hes shown this preseason first?

    3) im sorry, but maurice purify may be a nice guy but he is the absolute opposite of a difference maker in this league. he’s slow, not exceptionally big, and doesn’t have great hands. that’s wonderful that he can do things occasionally while blocking on special teams, but so can cosby and hes someone who can actually make his own plays as well. when you already have a guy like hebert looking like hes being rostered again, i mean, how many “special teams only” guys do you need?

    4) a little off topic perhaps, but i still think the biggest issues roster wise are residing on the offensive line… literally (ahem, 71) and metaphorically (depth at tackle, why do the coaches love livings over mathis, depth at center)

  11. By hobsonschoice1 on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    CJ: Totally off base on Bryant.

    The knock on him from the past -the distant past I would emphasize _ is that his competitive fire is so great that at times it got the best of him. No one has ever accused him of relaxing and taking it easy. Just the opposite.

    I would venture that his desire to get back on the field has put him in this mess. He wanted to play so badly in Tampa last year after he got hurt that he probably came back too soon. And when he got the big money here, I think he put even more pressure on himself to play as soon as possible.

    You’re talking about a tough, committed man who has taken football seriously his entire life. Don’t smear the guy just because he can’t play. The blame has to go elsewhere, if there is blame. Was the knee already damaged? Did something happen in the OTAs? Whatever it is, it is not Antonio Bryant’s fault.

    I like the idea of a trade. You could get something worthy for Cosby. But the only thing you would probably trade for is a backup QB because there are so few and they could very well stick with J.T. because of his grasp of the system.

    The other spots _ kicker, backup center-guard, backup safety _ can and have come off the wire.

    Of course, so did a QB once upon a time come free off the wire on Cutdown Day.

    Jeff Blake.

  12. By 2ndboot on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    …and we know what a wonder Blake was.. I wondered how he ever got so lucky to have such good receivers.. ;)

  13. By bengalanthony13 on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    If Bryant is healthy: Ocho, TO, Bryant, Shipley, Caldwell, Cosby. IR Brisoce–he won’t clear waivers if they Practice Squad him.

    If Bryant isn’t healthy: Ocho, TO, Shipley, Caldwell, Cosby, Briscoe.

    They CANNNOT get rid of Quan. He is a valuable player and plays with more effort than arguably anyone on this team. Briscoe has TONS of upside, but he’s not even 21 yet. The problem with him is that if they Practice Squad him, he’ll get picked up by another team. At least as a #6 WR, he’ll have time to develop and probably wouldn’t dress. Jones is an enigma, Simpson will never “get it” and Purify hasn’t been used other than on Punt coverages, basically. It all comes down to Bryant’s health and how much they value Cosby.

  14. By bengalanthony13 on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    kimmelp —

    They can’t PUP Bryant because he practiced the first day of camp. If a player does that, you can’t PUP them. Therein lies a big portion of the problem with him.

  15. By rparr32 on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    Hey Hob…..what about a trade to the Panthers for Tony Pike? Or do you wait to see if they release him? Sounds like he might be on the bubble unless they keep 4 QB’s. If you do something like that you know that J Palmer will not make the squad. How will that effect Carson?

  16. By tcr2555 on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    The whole thing seems pretty cut and dried to me. Ocho, T.O., Shipley, and Caldwell are in. Cosby is too versatile to lose. I don’t know what the I.R./PUP options are on Bryant but if you can’t use one of them he’s gone. Jones just hasn’t done enough, Purify can’t stay healthy. The only decision left to make is Simpson vs. D. Briscoe. Has the Simpson experiment progressed enough to stick with him or do you move on to a new “project” in Briscoe? Only the coaches who work with them daily can make that call but hey, that’s what they get paid for!

  17. By phlockar on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    From what I understand if a player practices in training camp they’re ineligible for the PUP list, so take Bryant of that wish list.

    IR him? Maybe. Talk about egg on your face. Prized free agent this year getting IR’ed after just one practice from an injury suffered last year. I’m surprised this isn’t as big of a story as is.

  18. By theredbengal on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    The main argument against keeping Bryant, especially if he isn’t ready for the beginning of the season, is that they would have to release a younger WR. Well, Simpson has had 3 offseasons to pan out and hasn’t seemed to. Briscoe was a 6th rounder they took a flyer on who is way to young to help this year.

    Bryant’s deal was for 4 years. They have plans beyond this year for the guy. I doubt releasing him is even an option. If it takes him a few weeks to get ready, so be it. The Bengals have the luxury of having two receiving tight ends now (Gresham/Coffman) if they need to split out another body.

  19. By hobsonschoice1 on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    Why take a shot at Blake here, Boot? He saved them from utter misery, actually went to a Pro Bowl, and moved them to respectability in ’95 and ’96 before he fell apart in ’97. Not bad for a waiver wire pickup.

    Yes, he was a wonder. He came out of nowhere and won 18 of his first 41 starts for a team that had won 11 games in the 44 previous games. That said, they went too long with him in ’97.

    Remember, as a playoff team the Bengals are far down the list of waiver claims. So if they really wanted a young player subject to waivers, they’d probably have to trade for him.

  20. By keem513 on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    We will see what happens in these next two weeks but keeping multi-purpose players like cosby and caldwell is a must because you never know when a player is going to go down. Depth is an essential when going down the stretch

  21. By whodey2010 on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    This is what needs to happen: Give Chad, T.O. and Shipley the next 2 weeks off. Rotate all of the bubble guys in and out with Carson to see how they really play. In the 2 games I’ve seen, when the second team comes in, those receivers have no chance to show anything because J.T. O’Sullivan is worse than David Klingler. Period. If they really want to see these guys, they need the real game situations they will be in. Not a league roaming, can’t get the ball to anybody, would rather duck than step up in the pocket bum. And make Jordan the #2 already!

  22. By pajormenalty on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    Bryant: It’s hard to wait out his injury (and hold a roster spot open) while simultaneously waiting out Brian Leonard’s injury. My guess is (with T.O. looking sharp) that Bryant is headed for IR.

    Cosby: I agree with the previous posts – he’s a keeper.

    Caldwell: Makes it, regardless of the Bryant situation.

    Jones: One great game, followed by two no-shows. I wouldn’t write him off yet, as I think his status depends on his production in the next couple games. If Bryant goes to IR, I think Jones makes it.

    Briscoe: It seems to me that the coaches are “hiding” him in the games, making sure he puts nothing on tape, with the hope of practice squadding him. Maybe I’m just a conspiracy theorist, but the Bengals have done it before. I actually think that Briscoe will initially make the practice squad (as most players normally do.) In the succeeding weeks, when injuries start setting in, is when he’s most in danger of being swiped.

    Purify: Gone

    Simpson: Gone (finally!)

    WR ROSTER:

    -85
    -T.O.
    -Shipley
    -Caldwell
    -Cosby
    -Jones

    Briscoe to Practice Squad

    Bryant to IR

  23. By bengals8509 on Aug 24, 2010 | Reply

    First off……this is a great problem to have! After last year, its nice to have too many recievers. With the projected starters of Ocho, T.O. and Shipley, you would want to have the best fill in recievers for those three spots. The best fill in for Ocho out of the remaining recievers would be Bryant if he is healthy. (If not I’ll explain later.) The best backup to play T.O.’s position would be Matt Jones because of his ability to stretch the field and because of his size. Lastly, the slot position now owned by the up and coming Shipley would be backed up by Caldwell. Unfortunately, I don’t see a spot that Cosby would fit in. He is best in the slot and we already have two guys there. A trade for any reciever that’s not going to make the roster would be great but we can’t keep them all. I see Jerome Simpson or Dez Briscoe staying if Bryant can’t make it. If I had to choose one I would say Jerome would stay because his experience backing up Chad. I have similar knee issues that Bryant has and remain very optimistic that he will contribute when the season starts. He just needs to rest it right now to prevent flareups. What a waste if he doesn’t though.

  24. By 303bengalguy on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    Is it even a discussion to consider Briscoe vs. Simpson? Cut bait on Simpson and go with Briscoe. If for nothing else, age, and Simpson’s inability to get past “project stage” in 4 years. Simpson winds up in the UFL, you watch…

    Matt Jones can latch on with another team too, although it’s probably in the NFL.

    Bryant to IR

    Cosby STAYS (remember the gel factor as well, especially with Shipley who we really need to foster growth with). If Adam Jones gets hurt or winds up ineffective on punts, Cosby is the man, and he can backup on KR’s too. I don’t necessarily want to trot Shipley out there, let him focus on WR roles.

  25. By wildcat14278 on Aug 25, 2010 | Reply

    People are talking about how Simpson couldn’t help out last year at receiver, when we were desperate for receiver help. But do you remember one of the reasons why we were desperate at receiver help, that was because the receivers we had could no get open! Which one of those receivers was Caldwell. Caldwell IMO will never be better than a 3rd receiver in the league, and actually probably is more of a 4th receiver at best right now. So I don’t see how that should make someone a lock to make the team right now. Cosby in my opinion could do just as well as a 4th receiver on this team and can play all the spots like Caldwell. Also Simpson is showing that he is starting to get it, and has the potential to be a #1 for us. Which we would need with Chad getting older and TO only here for a year most likely. If the Bengals don’t keep Bryant than I can see why Caldwell would make it, but if they keep Caldwell. I don’t see why they should keep him over some of these other guys. Not to mention he has shown nothing this preseason. We can’t give the backup QB as the excuse, considering someone like Simpson has played with the same backup QB’s and still has shown some things.

  26. By mwindle1973 on Aug 27, 2010 | Reply

    Jeff Blake was a good QB for a couple seasons.

    There is no way we eat $10M. Not before he has even played a game. He’s too young for that. Especially considering we just ate a good chunk on the Coles cut.

    Premature. We made a long term investment and we are doing the smart thing by getting him totally rehabbed before OKing him to go. Since we have TO, Bryant can take his time and get 100 % for real. He can do some damage if he is healthy.

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