Jerome Simpson didn't have a good start in Training Camp; which has to be somewhat surprising considering the task that's ahead of him. While we're fully aware that Friday was the first day of Training Camp, let's be honest about one thing. If Simpson doesn't impress the hell out of everyone on each play, and makes no mistakes, then he's going to have to trouble being active each week -- much less have any playing time.
As it stands, he's, at best, the fifth wide receiver on the depth chart. However, that's beginning to seem a bit generous. Think of it this way. Would Simpson have much of a chance to make the team if he wasn't the team's second-round pick in the 2008 NFL Draft?
Will he unseat Chad Ochocinco Johnson, Laveranues Coles, Chris Henry or Andre Caldwell? Will the Bengals have enough confidence in him to keep him on the squad? Or will they elect to keep Antonio Chatman? Is he better than Quan Cosby or Maurice Purify? Will Freddie Brown unseat Simpson off the squad because Brown can contribute to the team's return game?
During the first day of Training Camp, two passes intended for Simpson led to interceptions. Chinedum Ndukwe intercepted one when he "muscled for inside position" and "outlept Simpson." When a pass bounced off Simpson's hands, Roy Williams caught the pass and took it for a pick-six. James Walker called it the "play of the day."
Simpson is definitely behind the Eight Ball right now. Would it be fair to say that he has to catch every pass, make himself valuable enough so coaches are convinced that he'd worth having on the 53-man roster? The team has elected to fill a roster spot or two with guys that won't likely play much so they can be groomed. Two were Eric Henderson and Stacy Andrews. Will the Bengals continue to use Simpson as a self-exempted roster spot for project status?
I know he's only a second year player and sometimes wide receivers need time to grow in the NFL. The only thing is that he doesn't have time. He needs to get on the field to grow. That won't happen as long as he allows two interceptions during practice; one of which goes for a defensive touchdown.
I know it's just practice. I know that he's only a second-year player. But practice is the only place he has to make his mark. And if he doesn't do that, then it won't matter how experienced he is.