Cincinnati Bengals to Watch vs. the Colts

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Aug 24, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Brandon Tate (right) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Wide Receiver

The battle for the final wide receiver spot(s) come down to rookie James Wright, second-year player Cobi Hamilton, and return specialist Brandon Tate.  Since Marvin Jones suffered his broken foot, much playing time has opened up to these three receivers, yet none of them having made a convincing argument why he should be the team’s final choice at receiver.

This year’s sixth round pick James Wright was drafted for his special teams ability.  Because he spent his college career as a special teams player primarily, it was a bit of a shock when he was drafted.  Nonetheless, upon his arrival in camp, Wright impressed as a receiver and began making a strong case for a roster spot as the team’s most versatile reserve receiver.

Since these initial impressions, Wright has taken a step back from making the team.  Although he’s considered to be primarily a specialist, Wright has committed three special teams penalties in three games this preseason, hence hurting his stock significantly.  To make matters worse, he suffered a concussion towards the end of the Cardinals game and may not even be available for the team’s final game.  At this point, Wright may be best suited for the practice squad as it’s unlikely another team would claim him off waivers.

Cobi Hamilton is the most talented receiver of this bunch, but has struggled catching passes at times and may be destined for the practice squad because of it.  Hamilton has been given every opportunity to succeed during this preseason, but he may have played himself out of the job.  Hamilton played better during the Cardinals game, but will have to produce a great game tonight if he is to crack this roster.

Brandon Tate is the final player in this battle.  He has been productive as a receiver this off-season and has always been a solid returner for the Bengals.  But due to his lack of versatility, his job has been in jeopardy all preseason.  One has to assume that the job is Tate’s at this point though.  Tate is a known commodity and is the only player amongst the group who doesn’t have practice squad eligibility, which may strengthen his case.  If the Bengals are worried that Hamilton will be claimed off waivers, then the practice squad eligibility advantage is negated.  But if they aren’t worried, then Tate has to be the front runner for the job heading into the team’s final game.