CINCINNATI OH - AUGUST 15: Jerome Simpson #89 of the Cincinnati Bengals gets tackled after catching a pass by Perrish Cox #32 and David Bruton #30 of the Denver Broncos during a preseason game at Paul Brown Stadium on August 15 2010 in Cincinnati Ohio. The Bengals won 33-24. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
There are a few things I'm still not sure about with the team's wide receiver battles during training camp and the preseason. A lot must be factored and decided to give the team a compliment of the typical six wide receiver roster that's expected to be decided by Saturday. But my mind is twisting like Earl, where I can make one argument in support of one player, I can make a completely different argument against that same player.
One of the more interesting knob-throbbers is that we're not exactly sure how Andre Caldwell is a lock. We just know that he is. Much of it has a lot to do with last year's production. Even though he disappeared last year, not recording more than a 35 yards receiving in the final ten regular season games last year, he was still the team's third-leading receiver and you have to factor that he did catch two game-winning touchdowns against the Ravens and Steelers. However, during the preseason, Caldwell's presence was much like how he ended the 2009 season, catching three passes for 24 yards receiving in four games played (he missed the game against the Bills). Will Caldwell's fate be determined on a reward for services rendered during those game-winning touchdowns? Or will he be axed because crickets respond to the question, "what have you done for me lately?"
See, two different arguments for the same player.
Jerome Simpson had his best showing this preseason against the Colts, recording six receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown. However, the four games that preceded the Colts game, Simpson combined for six receptions for 81 yards receiving. Simpson recorded 12 receptions for 149 yards receiving and a touchdown in the preseason, surpassing his previous preseason totals in during his rookie season (his best preseason) of 11 receptions, 157 yards receiving and no touchdowns.
Simpson's one saving grace for his rookie and sophomore seasons was his wealth of talent. While he rarely got on the field to showcase that talent in the first place, the coaches never felt comfortable enough to trust his ability to run the proper routes. Was the preseason a progressive journey of Simpson getting it? Or was he benefit playing against lesser talent in the Colts cellar-residing secondary? Then again, that question is simply posed, not based on the field, but in the minds of Marvin Lewis and Mike Brown. Are they ready yet to claim that Simpson, a second-round draft pick, just won't contribute enough to the offense to warrant a spot on the roster? Or will their patience win out, allowing Simpson a second saving grace?
That is, of course, suggesting that Cosby made the team as the fifth wide receiver. Last week, I believed he was a lock. I love the guy. He's the type of character you want on every football team; hard worker, intelligent, high awareness, good character guy. However, today, I'm not so sure. Cosby had the worst punt return average between he, Jordan Shipley and Adam Jones during the preseason. Jones' kickoff return average was nearly five yards better than Cosby's, mostly thanks to both players longest return, with Jones recording a preseason high 51-yard return. Even though Cosby was also the team's fifth leading receiving, recording seven receptions for 104 yards, you get the feeling that his best chance will come through special teams -- and I don't just mean the return game. He plays with mostly every unit on special teams, even recording two tackles. While not predicting whether Cosby is a lock or not, I wouldn't be surprised with either result. And if he makes the team, I'd be perfectly fine with that.
Then there's Dezmon Briscoe. Earlier this morning, I wrote a post for arguing that Briscoe could pass waivers. Whether he does or does not predicates the idea that he'll be cut in the first place. Since the sixth receiver is typically one of the team's inactive players, Briscoe wouldn't be taking a roster spot of much importance, allowing him to continue developing while not risking his loss. In truth, I'm more confident that Briscoe will pass waivers than I am he'll be cut in the first place; a shattering personal low in terms of my own confidence.
Like I said, the case of wide receivers is one that presents two quality arguments.