The battle for the No. 2 wide receiver position has been a key offseason talking point and for good reason. It's a glaring hole that could become a glaring weakness in an otherwise solid offense. Jerome Simpson left in the offseason and no free agent was signed following his departure, leaving the position to be fought over by roster left overs and rookie draft picks--a situation which sounds worse than it actually is. The top two previously rostered receivers are Brandon Tate and Armon Binns, the former who has thus far encouraged offensive coordinator Jay Gruden with his progress from 2011, and the latter is the exciting, mysterious receiver who has never played an NFL down, yet instills hope in every Bengal fan ready for a breakout star. The rookie is Mohammad Sanu, a key piece of the highly esteemed Cincinnati Bengal 2012 draft class. Also in the position battle are Ryan Whalen, Jordan Shipley and Andrew Hawkins.
This competition may not be a battle at all, but instead a timeshare. And perhaps we are making a bigger deal out of it than what actually exists. In the following video, Jay Gruden touches on how he plans to use his wide receivers, who has done well thus far, and why we are all much more worried about this position than he is.
His take on the No. 2 wide receiver position begins at about 2:15
Jay Gruden discusses the WR battle (via pauldehnerjr)
Breaking down his response, a few things can be deduced.
First, the top three players vying for playing time are Brandon Tate, Armon Binns, and surprisingly, Ryan Whalen. Sanu is not discussed as though he is a legitimate option. Instead, he is "learning". Andrew Hawkins supplies value in his versatility and speed--the extra element--not so much as wide out, and Shipley's top priority is to get healthy. It's widely agreed upon that is talent his best suited for the slot anyway. Gruden doesn't say much about Binns or Tate, other than that they have "done some great things". But with Whalen, he puts it in simple terms: he hasn't messed up. He runs good routes, he catches the ball, and in turn he's earned a fair fight with the other receivers.
Second, the No. 2 position will not be held by just one receiver. Gruden said he expects no player to significantly outperform the other and that they will both get plenty of snaps.
Three, and this is purely conjecture, but no talk whatsoever is made about rookie Marvin Jones. Recently, Marvin Lewis had a similar exchange to Gruden's in which the name Marvin Jones did not pop up once when discussing the receiver position. Is it coincidence that his name managed to not come up in two separate interviews with two separate coaches? If we can assume on the basis of only this video, is Marvin Jones the eighth ranked receiver behind A.J. Green and the six receivers--Binns, Tate, Sanu, Shipley, Hawkins, Whalen--mentioned by Gruden? If so, Marvin Jones better fight his way up the depth chart this training camp or he is not making the 2012 roster.