Much like rookie wide receiver Jordan Shipley, tight end Jermaine Gresham is threatening Cris Collinsworth's franchise record (67) for receptions by a rookie. Gresham, playing all seven games this season including five starts, has 29 receptions for 201 yards receiving and two touchdowns. The rookie tight end was expected not to just be an outlet, or a hot read if you will, for Carson Palmer during a blitz, Gresham was expected to stretch the field, which in reality he has yet to do with a 6.9 yard/reception average. Can you imagine with Gresham going vertical with Shipley cutting underneath? Per the Enquirer's Kevin Goheen.
Of Palmer's 282 pass attempts, 154 have been thrown to wide receivers Chad Ochocinco (69) or Terrell Owens (85). Gresham has been targeted 47 times.
Gresham's longest reception was for 27 yards at Carolina, a play in which he took a screen pass and showed the run-after-catch dimension of his game. It helped set up a Cedric Benson touchdown run in a 20-7 win against the Panthers.
Aside from his 59 yards receiving against the Panthers, Gresham hasn't recorded more than 35 yards receiving in any game and his six receptions against the New England Patriots remains a career-high. We're not blaming him on this; only pointing out that maybe he's not being utilized as much as he should, considering his 6'5" frame allowed him to average 14.7 yards/reception in college.
The challenges that Gresham's size brings against safeties, and speed and athleticism against linebackers, is too beneficial to the offense to not push Gresham downfield. And you have to consider, the further downfield he pushes, the more likely a safety is forced to cover, freeing up Chad Ochocinco, whose "always double teamed" or Terrell Owens, who could have at least two more touchdowns if Carson Palmer's deep passes were
anywhere close in the neighborhood slightly more accurate.
Yet, the Bengals have been recently lining Gresham up as a full back.
"He's doing well in blocking," offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski said. "There's a bunch of (tight ends) that can do that, but they won't be what he's going to be in the pass game."
Let me tell you how joyful I am hearing that our tight end drafted the first round is learning his natural fullback position, aren't you?