Question of the Day: Can Jerome Simpson step up or has his time come and gone?

During a workout on Tuesday, Georgia Tech wide receiver Demaryius Thomas broke his foot. Thomas, NFL.com writes, was "projected to be one of the top receivers in the 2010 NFL Draft" which begs the question: how much will the injury hurt Thomas' stock and will he fall late in the first round for the Bengals? I'm speculating, of course. There's no sign that the Bengals will address wide receivers in the NFL draft. The last time they did that, in 2008, they picked up a solid Andre Caldwell that has a lot of unfulfilled potential and Mario Urrutia, who spent 2008 on the practice squad before being waived in mid-June of 2009.

Then there's Jerome Simpson. Drafted in the second round of the 2008 NFL draft, Simpson's one reception in his entire career, which spans eight games, is hardly worth the investment of a second-round pick. We wrote on August 1, 2009, as training camp kicked off for the Bengals:

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.

I get it; it takes wide receivers time to develop. But I think when people say that, they're anticipating that the receiver actually develops on the field. One career reception in two seasons. Is that developing? During the 2009 preseason, Simpson caught four passes for 40 yards and during the 2008 preseason, Simpson caught 11 passes for 157 yards receiving. Is a four-game stretch during the preseason enough time to develop?

But it took a long time for Houshmandzadeh to develop. True. But he also played, recording 62 receptions his first two seasons. And he returned punts and kickoffs.

James Walker wonders if Jones will knock Simpson off the team. The question is worth investigating, which will be answerable based on how both receivers perform during minicamp, training camp and the preseason. After signing Jones, and a chance that the Bengals sign Terrell Owens (conjecturing), where does that put Simpson? If the Bengals draft a receiver, does that mark the end of Simpson in a Bengals uniform?

More importantly, it's not like opportunity isn't there. Simpson will be given a chance to beat out Jones, Quan Cosby and Maurice Purify. If the Bengals cut Coles based on performance compared to costs, Simpson could become the team's third receiver. But it's all on Simpson now. It's his opportunity. It's his time. It's his choice whether he wants to pick up the ball or drop it.

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