On more than one occasion during last Thursday's preseason victory over the Carolina Panthers, a running back came around the side of the line to find No. 89, Jerome Simpson, blocking the defensive back, giving either Cedric Benson or Bernard Scott some extra room to run. It isn't much of a surprise that two of the team's three touchdown's came from a Bengals running back.
Simpson was just doing his job. A wide receiver doesn't just catch passes and look pretty, they have to block too. It's one of the only downsides of being a wide receiver (unless, of course, you like hitting people) and, to make it worse, a wide receiver blocks a lot more than they catch or carry the ball.
And what makes it even worse is that not many people notice the blocking -- they just want to see the big catch.
Some people noticed Simpson's blocking though, and those "some people" included left tackle and team leader Andrew Whitworth.
"There were multiple others that most people don't see but the reason those weren't four or five-yard gains but instead were 12 yards was because he was blocking his guy. That kind of stuff is tremendous," said left tackle Andrew Whitworth. "The catches are going to to come because he's a great athlete and he works really hard on his game but to see him do that kind of stuff lets me know where his head is at' that is that he wants to be the best receiver he can be in every part of the game."
Simpson spent a lot of his offseason during the lockout working on his blocking as well as the other parts of his game. During the game against the Panthers, Simpson didn't catch any passes, but he did get a chance to work on blocking defensive backs.
"I hate to see on film that my block could have been a touchdown but I missed it," said Simpson. "That's why I've keyed on improving my blocking. I didn't get to improve on catching (against Carolina) so I worked on improving my blocking and did what I could."
Simpson has only caught two passes so far this preseason, and both of those passes came in the team's first game, a loss to the Detroit Lions. Simpson isn't worried about it, though. He knows that he'll get the ball often throughout the season.
"We can spread the ball out and have to read all of the reads. It's something that's going to come along, I'm very sure of that.
"I just have to stay patient and keep playing hard."
I have a feeling that Simpson is going to have a good year.