Though the University of Cincinnati Bearcats lost to the Florida Gates 51-24 during the 2010 Sugar Bowl, that 2009 squad finished the season with a perfect 12-0 regular season record and their second Big East championship in as many years. Highlighted by names like quarterback Tony Pike, wide receiver Mardy Gilyard and defensive end Conner Barwin (all of whom Bengals fans have wanted), that squad was one of the more exciting Bearcats teams I've seen. Bengals wide receiver Armon Binns was also on that squad, posting 61 receptions for 888 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns that year. The following season, after Brian Kelly left for Notre Dame with Tony Pike and Mardy Gilyard leaving for the NFL, Binns still generated 75 receptions, 1,101 yards receiving and 10 touchdowns.
So what's his future with the Cincinnati Bengals?
Binns initially joined the Bengals when he signed onto the team's practice squad on September 20. He eventually replaced Andre Caldwell -- who went on Injured Reserve -- on the 53-man roster for Cincinnati's wild card playoff game against the Houston Texans. Binns was inactive for the game.
According to Dan Hoard with the Bengals Radio Network, Marvin Lewis commented on Friday during the NFL Combine that coaches on his staff began "pushing him to play Armon Binns", making one suspect that he'll be a wide receiver in the mix for next season. Or at the very least competing for playing time at a position that could, after free agency and the NFL draft, be loaded with players fighting for a limited number of available opportunities.
The only absolute certainties at wide receiver for 2012 is that A.J. Green and Jordan Shipley will have a place no matter what. That doesn't mean others, who are currently on the roster, won't. Ryan Whalen will most likely make the 2012 squad, along with Andrew Hawkins for his special teams contributions. Brandon Tate returning would be a reasonable assumption, though not as convincing as Whalen and Hawkins. And if the Bengals decide to give Tate competition as the primary return man (which we suspect will happen), we suppose there's a 50/50 shot that Tate makes it. Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell are both free agents.
At the very least it appears that Binns will get his opportunity now.