With 6:41 remaining in the second quarter, Armon Binns caught his first pass with the Cincinnati Bengals. Ever. It was an emotional moment for Binns, who lettered four years at University of Cincinnati, with a very realistic chance to make the 53-man roster. Binns, who was caught a little teary-eyed during the National Anthem, put together a convincing game against the New York Jets.
"It was such a big moment," Binns told (Dan Hoard) after the game. "I’ve been through so much the last couple of years and to be here with this opportunity – nobody would have thought that I would have been here. It felt great man. I’m so blessed to be out here with this team and to compete for a spot on the roster."
During his first reception of his Bengals career (though only preseason), Binns lined up wide right in I-formation on first-and-10 from the Jets 29-yard line. Rookie Mohamed Sanu flanked wide left with Donald Lee at tight end. The Jets ran a cover-one man with Ellis Lankster covering Binns.
Binns fired off the line of scrimmage taking a quick step to his right, before cutting left to claim the inside position. Quarterback Bruce Gradkowski watched the entire way, while six pass rushers were easily neutralized by Cincinnati's pass protection. After ten yards into his vertical route, Binns used his inside position to cut towards the hashmarks. Gradkowski made the throw and Binns extended his body to make the 16-yard reception.
Binns was targeted later on the drive, with 3:10 remaining in the first half. Gradkowski stood in shotgun on third-and-eight from the Jets 35-yard line. Binns lined up wide right, with Brandon Tate wide left.
After a short drop, Gradkowski quickly released towards Binns' slant route, picking up eight yards and the first down. What really made the play work was that Binns, off the line of scrimmage, quickly positioned himself inside, generating plenty of separation on the slant to make the reception on a throw that was slightly behind him.
Binns was only targeted twice on Friday, both times during that possession. He caught both passes for 24 yards receiving with both receptions leading to first downs. We also should note that Binns posted a 19-yard reception on third-and-16, but it was negated thanks to Reggie Stephens' hold.
Now we'd be doing everyone a disservice if we mentioned Binns without a look at Brandon Tate; his primary competition for the high-profile role of No. 2 wide receiver.
With over 3:51 remaining in the first quarter at their own 34-yard line, Andy Dalton under intense pressure gently hits Brandon Tate's crossing pattern in stride, picking up 10 yards and the first down.
Tate would generate his second and final reception of the evening with 4:43 remaining in the second quarter. On third-and-six from the Bengals 49-yard line, Tate lined up wide right and ran quick skinny post.
The coverage was solid and Tate didn't generate much separation. But who cares when you have athleticism. Tate fight through the under-throw with the cornerback colliding the receiver.
The 14-yard reception converted the third down.
Tate was targeted five times, generating only two receptions. One might think: My goodness, he's not very efficient. What actually happened doesn't always adequately tell the statistical story. Quinton Couples knocked one pass down at the line of scrimmage, Bruce Gradkowski overthrew another pass down the left sidelines (that Tate still amazingly caught despite being pushed out of bounds) and another throw was tipped at the line of scrimmage that Tate almost caught anyway.
Both players played well, neither jumping ahead of the other. However you also witnessed an extreme difference in regards to their strengths. Whereas Binns seems like the receiver you want to make clutch receptions when they're needed the most, Tate has the ability to make the bigger play, perhaps generating defining moments that change a game's momentum. It would seem very logical and somewhat conclusive to us that both Binns and Tate work as the No. 2 receiver in a committee ideology. But there's three games remaining to make that decision.