Bengals Wide Receivers Still a Work in Progress


Look for a lot of unknowns and barely-knowns at WR for the Bengals in the preseason opener against Green Bay. T.J. Houshmandzadeh, nursing a sore hamstring, will likely sit out. Chad Johnson may not play Monday night after tweaking his ankle in Friday’s practice. The silver lining is that the guys behind them need the reps. So far, no one has stepped up and grabbed the the open No. 3 wide receiver role.

"“I can’t ever remember this many balls being dropped at a training camp down here,” said [Bob] Bratkowski, the Bengals offensive coordinator, after watching Friday’s practice fittingly end on rookie receiver Jerome Simpson’s drop. “Right now we’re searching for those guys. Nobody has stepped up. Too many mental errors. Too many technique errors.”For a team that a blink of an eye ago had the deepest corps of receivers in the NFL teeming with guys like Kelley Washington, Kevin Walter (lost to free agency), Tab Perry (lost to injury) and Chris Henry (lost to the courts), it is cold-water reality to hear Bratkowski say of a tight end, “Thank goodness for Ben Utecht. He’s having a good camp. We need to use him to take pressure off that third receiver if anybody emerges.”"

Other players expected to miss the Green Bay game include: Chinedum Ndukwe, Rudi Johnson, Antwan Odom, Ethan Kilmer, Indiana Jones and Rashad Jeanty. Bengals Nation Daily has a good breakdown of the game. All I can add is: and no injuries, too!

Ahmad Brooks, taken in the 2006 supplemental draft, has slipped to third-string SLB on the depth chart. Brooks’ struggles aren’t all his fault. Initially groomed for the middle, he’s now being asked to move to the strong side, his second position switch in as many years.

DEs Frostee Rucker and Jonathan Fanene are battling to fill in for the injured Antwan Odom.

Whodeyfans to Brett Favre: bring it on.

Once again, Fox Sports puts an incorrect headline on a Bengals story from the AP. No, dimwits, the Bengals aren’t paying former DT Matthais Askew, the city of Cincinnati is. Just a few days back, Fox posted this howler. I guess there’s a reason lots of people call it “Faux News.”

WDR predicts that Chad and T.J. will have fewer catches this year with, among other things, Ben Utecht at TE and the return of receiving back Chris Perry. They could very well be right, though I’d note that back in 2005, when the Bengals had Perry, Chris Henry and TE Matt Schobel, Chad actually had more catches than he did in ’07. T.J., however, grabbed 78 balls that year, versus 112 last year. With the third WR slot still open, the big question will be, where do the 60 combined balls caught by departed receivers Henry, Kevin Walter and Kelly Washington go?

AFC North Watch: Steelers backup QB Charlie Batch broke his right collarbone Friday night. He’s expected to be out at least a month, and the Steelers are scrambling for a replacement. The leading candidate is Byron Leftwich.

Cleveland’s highest draft pick in 2008, fourth-round LB Beau Bell is out 4-6 weeks after knee surgery.

Sixteen Ravens sat out the preseason opener due to injury: Willis McGahee (knee) and P.J. Daniels (shoulder); receivers Clayton, Williams and Patrick Carter (arm); tight ends Todd Heap (calf), Daniel Wilcox (toe) and Aaron Walker (knee); offensive tackles Jared Gaither (ankle) and Adam Terry (ankle); defensive tackles Haloti Ngata (knee) and Kelly Gregg (knee); safety Ed Reed (shoulder); cornerbacks Chris McAlister (knee) and Samari Rolle (bereavement); and linebacker Dan Cody (foot). Ouch.