Bengals WR Caldwell Could Have Even Bigger Opportunity

When Bengals wide receiver Jordan Shipley left the game against the Broncos with a hurt knee, Andre Caldwell replaced him as the team's slot receiver. He caught three passes for 27 yards and a touchdown. When the news came that Shipley's hurt knee was an ACL tear and that he was being placed on Injured Reserve, we knew that Caldwell had an opportunity, being that he's in the last year of his rookie contract, to impress coaches and earn a new contract with the team after the season comes to an end.

That could be especially true now. With the news that the Bengals' No. 2 receiver, Jerome Simpson, along with offensive lineman Anthony Collinscould be prosecuted for having 2.5 pounds of marijuana sent from California to their Northern Kentucky house and the discovery of six more pounds of marijuana in the house by authorities, Caldwell could be asked to step up from the role of a slot receiver to fill in as the team's new No. 2 receiver.

I'm not going to sit here and assume that Simpson is guilty. Until there are more facts or until he's actually arrested he's still on the team as far as I'm concerned. However, I do know that when authorities track 2.5 pounds of marijuana to your house and then find six more pounds there, along with "other empty parcels, scales and packing material," it doesn't look good and you're likely to be in some big trouble soon. I, for one, am going to go ahead and prepare for the worst.

And the worst in this situation would be that Simpson and Collins would be arrested and sent to prison for close to five years, obviously ending his time with the Bengals and probably ending their NFL careers. Caldwell would obviously be promoted from the team's slot receiver to the No. 2 receiver, where he would play opposite of A.J. Green. The team would then likely promote Ryan Whalen as the team's slot receiver and both Brandon Tate and Andrew Hawkins would get more playing time. Armon Binns could even be promoted to the team's 53-man roster.

It isn't like Caldwell has never played as the Bengals' No. 2 receiver. When Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens were hurt at the end of the 2010 season, Caldwell and Simpson stepped up. In the final three games of the season as the the No. 2 receiver, Caldwell caught 15 passes for 270 yards. 

Like Simpson, Caldwell is in the final year of his rookie contract. We've talked about Simpson's need to impress Bengals coaches so he can get anther contract with the team in 2012. However, Simpson may have sealed his fate. Caldwell now has the opportunity to prove to the Bengals that he can be the team's No. 2 receiver of the future and that he deserves another contract after the season comes to an end. Hopefully he does prove himself because the better he is, the better the team will be.

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