Cincinnati Bengals: Predicting Practice Squad

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WR: Cobi Hamilton and James Wright

Jul 26, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Cobi Hamilton (87) makes a catch during training camp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

After starting the off-season as a roster favorite, Cobi Hamilton has struggled to establish himself within this deep and talented wide receiver group.  He’s clearly talented as a receiver after breaking several Arkansas records while in college and setting the SEC record for single game yards, but Hamilton has struggled with dropping passes and hasn’t been able to take advantage of the many opportunities he’s received (no pun intended).  Hamilton has been targeted 14 times during the Bengals first two preseason games and yet he’s only produced two catches for 11 yards.  Hamilton also lacks ability on special teams evidenced by receivers coach James Urban’s comments earlier this off-season.

"“Cobi Hamilton, you were an accomplished wide receiver at the collegiate level, you had 1,300 yards receiving your senior year, but can you prove that you can contribute on special teams? Those kinds of things come up.”"

Reserve receivers are often expected to play an important role within special teams such as gunner or returner.  The Bengals seriously value versatility and because Hamilton lacks ability outside of playing receiver, he sets himself behind the rest of the reserves.

James Wright was drafted in the sixth round of this year’s

Aug 16, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver James Wright (86) warms up before the game against the New York Jets at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

draft.  He was a surprise pick to many fans, but the reviews on Wright have been positive during camp.  He was primarily a special teamer in college who lacked experience as a receiver.  Through two preseason games, Wright has outplayed Hamilton, but has fallen behind Ryan Whalen.  After not playing in game one, Whalen had four catches on six targets, showing coaches and fans alike the consistency he displays as a backup receiver.  This role may be especially important considering Marvin Jones’ recent foot injury as Whalen also has played special teams in the past.  Wright has two blocking penalties through two games on special teams.  Considering his value is primarily in this phase of the game, Wright hasn’t helped his case.  Whalen is clearly the best all-around receiver, but considering the promise Wright has shown so far, there’s no reason for the team to move on from him right away.