The Cincinnati Bengals are loaded with exciting young wide receivers, chief among them last year's first round pick and Pro Bowler, AJ Green. The battle to start opposite Green is expected to be intense between rookie draft picks Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones. Some returning veteran wide receivers just might have a say in that battle as well.
To this point in the Bengals' off season workouts, the starting work opposite Green has been given to Brandon Tate, who worked almost exclusively as a return man last year, and Armon Binns who spent the season on the practice squad. Even though these two have little advantage as far as game experience, their knowledge of Jay Gruden's offense by being in the system a year gives them the leg up as the rookies are still in learning mode.
Both Tate and Binns have made the most of their opportunities thus far. In yesterday's first day of mandatory workouts, both Tate and Binns were solid in their route running and consistent in catching balls thrown in their direction. That may not sound like much, but Andy Dalton will take that every Sunday, as will most NFL quarterbacks.
Jones and Sanu, however, do represent another level of skill that Tate and Binns most likely won't achieve. Their task is to work on their knowledge of the playbook and develop the consistency that their veteran counterparts have been displaying.
Jones made a terrific grab yesterday of a Bruce Gradkowski deep ball. He's shown the ability to get past defensive backs that made him the Bengals' target in the draft. It will be his ability to make the ordinary play consistently though that will get him more time with the first unit.
The Bengals just let go one of the more explosive wide receiver talents in the league in Jerome Simpson. Before that, the Bengals had Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens. All three were capable of explosive performances, but all too often were inconsistent with their route running and dropped catchable balls. The Bengals have seen that before.
If Sanu or Jones is to steal a starting job, they will have to outwork the veterans like Brandon Tate and Armon Binns and show that not only can they make the highlight reel grabs, but the key third down slant reception as well.
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