Can Bengals’ Onterio McCalebb Catch On with the Offense?


Former Auburn running back Onterio McCalebb has been with the Cincinnati Bengals for the past two seasons.  After acting as a unique offensive weapon for the Tigers, McCalebb has been training as a cornerback for the Bengals.  It seems this transition hasn’t gone the way the Bengals intended.

Aug 28, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Onterio McCalebb (39) against the Indianapolis Colts at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

"“The transition to corner maybe was not as smooth as we had hoped, but he’s a great kid who can run and it’s obvious he’s natural with the ball in his hands since he’s played offense his whole life.  Let’s see what he does at training camp when everybody is starting from square one.”"

As you can tell from the quote, the Bengals now are moving Onterio McCalebb back to the offensive side of the ball.  The intention is likely to see if he can help the team as an offensive weapon and, more specifically, possibly as a slot receiver.

Onterio McCalebb is a dynamic threat with the ball.  He possesses great speed and agility.  The question surrounding McCalebb’s ability on the offensive side of the ball has always been durability.  At 5’10”, 175 pounds, the Bengals were concerned that his body would be unable to withstand NFL hits consistently.  At this point, it seems the team is willing to take that risk, as McCalebb’s time with the team seems to be running short.  After two years of trying to transition him to the defense, how much longer can the Bengals afford a practice squad spot for a player who can’t get onto the field, much less the roster?

The potential combination of McCalebb’s skill set and Hue Jackson’s creativity could be special.  The former Auburn running back could prove to be a dual-threat weapon who can bring speed to the unit.  In the end, the truth is McCalebb has a severe upward climb if he is to make the roster or the practice squad.

Cincinnati just drafted Mario Alford who is a similar player, yet has trained as a wide receiver, which should give him a leg up.  Also at wide receiver, veterans like Denarius Moore and Brandon Tate also have a leg up on the third-year McCalebb.  Moore is a speedy receiver who, like Alford, brings speed to the unit. Meanwhile, Tate is a veteran player who is also proven as a special teams returner.  Although McCalebb has experience as a returner, it’s hard to see him making an impact in this facet considering how behind he is at this point.

At running back, the situation is as inauspicious for Onterio McCalebb.  The team is loaded at the position and both Rex Burkhead and Cedric Peerman would have a huge leg up on McCalebb.  In order to make the roster this year, it would require a meteoric rise up the depth chart from the former Auburn Tiger.  Despite being at a significant disadvantage, Onterio McCalebb’s storyline should be an interesting one to watch during this year’s training camp.

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