Now that the Bengals are down three Tight Ends, the question becomes, what now? Reggie Kelly is out for the year after having surgery on Wednesday. On the same day, Ben Utecht suffered a nasty concussion which knocked him out for nearly ten minutes before regaining consciousness and was taken to the local hospital. Daniel Coats is listed as day-to-day after the third-string Tight End twisted his ankle. With Chase Coffman and Darius Hill as the only healthy Tight Ends available (both of whom are rookies), the Bengals are looking into the market for another.
The Bengals were talking about signing another tight end even before they went out to practice Wednesday night with former Packer and Jet Bubba Franks the most well known. Head coach Marvin Lewis acknowledged that Franks "was a very, very good player for a long period of time." He's also 31 and has played in just eight games in each of the last two seasons.
Typically when the Bengals went through a spell of injuries, we'd question the training staff. However, it doesn't seem right this time. The injuries that our Tight Ends are suffering are freak injuries that are unpreventable, placed in the category of "it happens."
Scout.com lists best available free agents at Tight End -- Bubba Franks among them.
George Wrighster - The Giants recently released him.
Bubba Franks - The New York Jets recently released him. Franks fits in as a second tight end at this point in his career.
Mark Bruener - May retire, but if he wants to play, he would fit in as a blocking/third tight end
Daniel Wilcox - Decent blocker who fits in as a second or third tight end.
Jerame Tuman - Fits in as a third tight end.
Courtney Anderson - One very highly regarded by the Raiders, but has bounced around quite a bit the past few seasons.
Nate Jackson - He was selected recently in the UFL draft.
Martrez Milner - Just waived by the Jets and fits in as a third tight end.
Adam Bergen - Former undrafted free agent who fits in as a third tight end.
Likely, the Bengals will rely heavily on Chase Coffman to carry the position banner. However, there's things he must adjust to. Like lining up in a three-point stance, for instance, and blocking. Coffman knows the sudden opportunity he's given.
"It does leave an opportunity for me to step up, make more plays and get more reps in practice and do the things that I need to be doing to be a great player," Coffman said Monday after Kelly was injured. "I have to step up now a lot more, learn quicker and do a lot better."
Satisfied enough that Coffman is doing the right things, head coach Marvin Lewis does see improvement.
"The offensive coaches comment that every day you see improvement," Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said. "It's kind of like riding a bike; the more you do it the quicker it's going to come back to you. I thought tonight he (Coffman) did a good job of both hanging in there physically and being one of two guys for an entire practice."
There's still a decent chance that Coats returns within the month. Who knows about Utecht -- concussions are tricky things and there's no time-table chart. Either way, the Bengals will likely sign a Tight End in the coming days to replenish the ranks -- at least temporarily.