Caldwell Proves He Can Handle No. 2

CINCINNATI, OH - SEPTEMBER 25: Jerome Simpson #89 of the Cincinnati Bengals watches his teammates during the game against the San Francisco 49ers on September 25, 2011 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The 49ers defeated the Bengals 13-8. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

Due to an investigation involving Jerome Simpson and a large amount of marijuana, the Bengals decided that they would allow Simpson to play but that he wouldn't start as the team's No. 2 receiver opposite of fourth-overall pick A.J. green. Instead, the coaches decided to start the team's most experienced receiver, Andre Caldwell.

This wasn't the first time that Caldwell has started in this position. Even though he spent the majority of the 2009 season in the slot and was the team's fourth receiver in 2010, losing his job to Jordan Shipley, he, along with Simpson, replaced Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens at the end of the season last year. In the final three games of the 2010 season, Caldwell caught 15 passes for 270 yards in a solid performance which was overshadowed by Simpson's breaking out.

Caldwell had another solid performance against the 49ers, especially in the first half.

Caldwell led the Bengals receivers with six catches for 53 yards. Quarterback Andy Dalton showed immediately that he felt comfortable with Caldwell, throwing him three passes in the first drive alone for 32 yards. On top of leading the team in receiving, he was targeted by Dalton almost twice as much as any other wide receiver. Dalton threw the ball Caldwell's way 11 times throughout the game. He only threw the ball to Green five times and only four times to Simpson.

If Jerome Simpson eventually gets charges filed against him for the eight pounds of marijuana in his house and he's suspended or dismissed from the team, Caldwell will likely be the receiver who fills his shoes. He proved at the end of the 2010 season that he can be a team's No. 2 receiver and he did it again on Sunday against the 49ers. Like Simpson, this is the last year of his rookie contract and he has just as much to prove.

The Bengals offense looked like many expected it to look before the season started. However, I really do believe they'll bounce back. Caldwell can, and I believe he will, help Dalton and the offense move the ball down the field.

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