Part two of the Jermaine Gresham question was always the most important. How will Bob Bratkowski use the Tight End in the offense and will it be worth the 21st overall draft pick? Luckily, Bengals.com beat writer Geoff Hobson (we suspect) is an avid reader of Cincy Jungle, working on that question in his latest piece that features the team's offensive coordinator.
Bratkowski points out that the lack of Tight End use was primarily because the team always had a deep pool of talented wide receivers -- a counterpoint we made a few weeks ago in favor of Gresham.
“If you remember, up until a certain point last season we had some pretty good wide receivers; in fact, very good ones,” Bratkowski said of his three-receiver sets bristling with talent at one time or another like Chad Ochocinco, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Chris Henry, Kelley Washington, Kevin Walter, Andre Caldwell and, albeit, a past-his-prime Laveranues Coles.
“Now we’re different,” he said. “We don’t have all those guys. You should see some of the stuff I’ve put in for the rookie minicamp. Our plan had been to get a tight end at some point in the draft, so I wanted to make sure that he got a lot of stuff next weekend. It’s not new stuff. But you haven’t seen it in awhile because we had so many good wide receivers.”
To the point in which Bratkowski makes, this team is different. This is a new Bengals squad with a revised philosophy that didn't exist during the first half of Marvin Lewis' tenure as the team's head coach. On that point alone, I've fallen in line with Jermaine Gresham, even with uncertainty regarding an injury that the Tight End and coaching staff have said are no longer a concern.
However, for those that worry about his blocking ability, be assured that he's well on his way to becoming serviceable enough that he could be effective on passing and rushing plays.
“The good thing about Jermaine is that he has played a lot on the line,” Hayes said. “Let’s face it — he missed a year. So, by the time we get him in here, it’s going to be about a year and a half since he’s played football in a group setting. We know that. Like Brat said, we’re going to get his feet wet.
"We’re going to get him going. The transition for him is getting down in a three-point stance and going through all those fundamental things. I had to revisit with Chase because he’d never done it, where this kid has done it—and he’s done a lot of it—so it’s not something new to him where all of a sudden he’s thinking about it constantly. He can put his hand on the ground and just go play. He’s done it, and that’s going to give him an advantage when he gets here.”
Gresham admits he needs to work on his blocking, but he’s one of these athletes that Lewis loves because he’s “a knee-bender,” and this is where his gym-rat work ethic comes in.
“This guy doesn’t have a time clock where he says, ‘OK, I’m going to block my guy for two seconds and then kind of see what’s going on,’ ” Bratkowski said. “This guy is pushing his guy downfield until he hears the whistle. Those things tipped the balance in his favor. The quality of kid he is, the work habits he brings, the love for the game—those were positives in his favor, along with his ability.”
I think the more reaction we hear from the team, as well as Sooner fans who watched Gresham, the more I'm believing that Gresham may be the best selection, giving credit to the squad for knowing what they're getting and applying it to their offense. Rather than picking a position just to pick a position, the Bengals appear ready to implement a Tight End that won't just be a weapon, but he'll be the team's best overall Tight End the team has had in some time. Or maybe I'm just a sucker.