Last week we began a weekly installment that honors a Bengals player for their efforts on Sunday. These are players that are usually overshadowed by the big numbers that may have been put up by more obvious MVP-type candidates. In the first installment, we designated rookie guard Clint Boling for his solid play in his first start in the Bengals' victory on the road against the Browns.
It's always hard to give an award like this for good play when the team loses. It's often said that there's no moral victories in the NFL and in a loss an award like this could be viewed as bittersweet. There were a couple of candidates that were up for nomination.
We ultimately settled on two standouts to choose between: defensive end Michael Johnson and wide receiver Andre Caldwell.
Michael Johnson applied pressure on Kyle Orton on Sunday, forcing a fumble that the Bengals recovered deep in Denver territory. This turnover resulted in a field goal that was part of the Bengals' comeback effort. As our own Jason Garrison pointed out earlier on Monday, Johnson has played well the first two games and is poised for a breakout year. But, given the defense's struggles on Sunday and the lack of a consistent pass rush, we went a different direction.
This week's "Unsung Hero of the Week Award" goes to Andre Caldwell. The two receivers in front of him had many more yards and catches, but it's the way that Caldwell stepped up that caught our eye. Buried on the depth chart behind A.J. Green, Jerome Simpson and Jordan Shipley, Caldwell has had few chances to shine.
But, with Shipley sustaining what would become a season-ending knee injury, Caldwell was thrust into the third receiver role and responded. He had a big touchdown reception in the Bengals' comeback efforts and had two other catches while stepping in for his injured teammate. We omitted Green and Simpson as both are up for our MVP nominations and their contributions were more obvious than Caldwell's.
In the end, we decided that an offensive player deserved this award more this week as they were a far more impressive unit on Sunday. Caldwell has really never had the consistent chance to start for the Bengals, so the fact that he helped his rookie quarterback and stepped up as the slot receiver says a lot.
Who would you choose as this week's "Unsung Hero of the Week Award" winner?