The Cincinnati Bengals selected Chase Coffman 98th overall in the 2009 NFL Draft in an effort to build the team's tight end position. The hope, at the time, was to have veteran Reggie Kelly mentor Coffman a season and ease the rookie tight end, who played like a wide receiver in college, into the pros. Kelly suffered a major Achilles injury and Ben Utecht, the team's backup tight end and primary a receiver in the passing game, suffered a concussion. Both were lost for the season within two days of each other in early August.
While Coffman was hounded by tight end coach Jonathan Hayes, doing push ups for mistakes during film sessions, the Bengals signed two new tight ends to replace Kelly and Utecht. One of those new tight ends was J.P. Foschi, who would go on to start 10 games with the Bengals, catching 27 passes for 260 yards receiving and two touchdowns. However, it was Daniel Coats that started the season at tight end with Coffman eventually listed as the third string tight end due to the time it was taking for Coffman to adjust to a pro-style offense as a tight end after spending so much time in a spread offense at Missouri, often in two-point stances flanked out wide.
Coffman's rookie season would end in early December after it was finally disclosed that Coffman had been dealing with bone spurs in his ankle, placed season-ending Injured Reserve. It was believed, and finally confirmed by Lewis a week before the 2010 NFL draft, that Coffman's rookie season was nothing more than a project season, to get him acclimated to the NFL.
“We feel good about Chase. We addressed some of his physical needs and improve him physically over the last season. We knew there was a chance there could be a redshirt year for him and eventually that was the way it worked out and that was a good thing. I know there have been some good players who didn’t play their first year and they turned out to be All Pro players by the end of third year. They learned the right way, the earned the spot and they were mentored correctly.”
The Bengals would bring back Reggie Kelly and Daniel Coats while drafting Jermaine Gresham as the team's first round draft pick in 2010. Coffman caught a 21-yard pass against the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game and an 11-yard pass against the Indianapolis Colts in the final game of the preseason. That would be the extent of his receptions in the preseason.
Cincinnati would go on to waive Coffman during final cut-down day to get their roster to within 53 players, electing to keep Gresham, Kelly and Coats on the roster. Since no team put a claim on Coffman, the young tight end signed back to the team's practice squad, spending eight games there.
On November 9, the Bengals finally promoted Coffman to the 53-man roster, releasing Foschi, who signed with the Bengals several weeks prior to replace Daniel Coats. Coffman has played in all three games this season since being called up, playing mostly on special teams with only 12 snaps on offense (according to Pro Football Focus).
Now with the Bengals sporting a 2-9 record, there seems to be the belief from the coaches that personnel shifts need to happen. If for anything, to see what they have for next season. One of those players, according to Joe Reedy who spoke with Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski, is Chase Coffman.
"We haven’t been able to get him the ball yet, but I’m sure that will happen," Bratkowski said. "You’re still playing to win games. You're still wanting to put your best players out there all the time. Yeah, if you can get younger guys involved."
It was somewhat of a fan's wet dream to see an offense with Coffman and Gresham in double Tight End formations, with the crazy possibility of two superior receiving tight ends roaming free, disrupting the defense. That's yet to happen and it may never. Still, why not find out now?