PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 12: Jordan Shipley #11 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a pass in front of William Gay #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the game on December 12 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Jordan Shipley is battling for a roster spot. Those are words that I did not ever think that I would say or write. A year ago today Shipley was preparing to be the team's slot receiver and likely a target that rookie quarterback Andy Dalton could trust. Shipley tore his ACL during the game at Denver last season. Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is not letting us in on what his plan is for Shipley, but he does acknowledge that Shipley needs to start progressing:
"I think its coming. It just has to come quicker. He's doing everything right. He's coming to treatment, he's working hard. He knows what to do. I think he will tell you he's not quite there yet. He's getting closer. He made some plays (on Tuesday). It's a tough deal for him. I know how good he was and how good he thinks he should be. In his mind he's not quite there."
There are plenty of options at receiver. The Bengals will most likely keep six receivers, but who they take to Baltimore for week one is anyone's guess. A.J. Green is most likely a lock (sarcasm). Mohamed Sanu has started off a bit slow, but he will make the team as well. Andrew Hawkins has been extremely impressive in practice and looks to have a spot nearly locked up. Rookie fifth round pick Marvin Jones has a great chance to make the team, especially if he can be more consistent. The two spots remaining could go to Armon Binns and Brandon Tate. One of them would start. One of them could also be cut. With Ryan Whalen and Justin Hilton in the mix, among others, it is tough to find a spot for Shipley. Gruden is non-committal on who will make the team, and wants everyone to know that there is still time for the receivers to prove themselves:
"That (roster) decision will play out in the next three weeks. We're all about playing the best guys and may the best guy win. We know what he's done in the past. These other guys are emerging and are good players we think. Let it play out. We're not going to predetermine any moves but the competition is there for sure."
Personally, I am stoked to watch the receiver battle become a bit clearer tonight. The Bengals take on the Falcons at 8 PM ET on Fox. Hopefully national TV is kind to us tonight.