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Old School - Bengals tight ends and re-examining WRs

Kelley Washington played his last game on October 15th at Tampa Bay after suffering a major hamstring injury. When he was listed as inactive, there was a certain panic that Cincinnati could be short on receivers. It was at the tail-end of something Chris Henry did wrong and Antonio Chatman was struggling to consistently get on the field. Anyway, let’s re-examine the Bengals wide receivers.

Chad Johnson – He played moderately well in the past two weeks and reminded the NFL community he is the best receiver in the league. Totally his words.
T.J. Houshmandzadeh – Is he still feeling the effects of a concussion? Had a season low two receptions for 15 yards against the Saints.
Chris Henry – You know the story. He started strong until there was an SUV, a window and Odell Thurman involved. Has only six receptions in his past three games. Randy Moss effort has now entered the discussion about this kid.
Kelley Washington – Hasn’t had a reception since playing the New England Patriots.
Glenn Holt - Has the distinction of being the intended receiver on the Bengals last play in the red-zone against the Chargers that fell incomplete.
Reggie McNeal – See Chris Henry where it talks about SUV, window and Odell Thurman.
Tab Perry – Still have a bad taste in my mouth on how he got hurt. Now on IR.
Antonio Chatman – Never was really healthy this season. Now on IR.

Let’s not forget about the tight ends.

For as much crap this team gets for not utilizing the tight end, I have to admit, I’ve been pleased. Reggie Kelly is perhaps one of the league’s top-five blocking tight end and lines up either in the backfield or on the line. He has the teams’ fourth best yards receiving and at least one reception in six straight games. Stellar? No. Doing what it takes to get it done? Yea, I’ll agree with that.

I think there are two aspects for the demand of a great tight end in Cincinnati.

First, people tend to get tight end envy after playing Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, Alge Crumpler and Todd Heap. That’s understandable. But I don’t see how making Reggie Kelly a primary receiver will help this offense. Chris Henry is our number three receiver and Chris Perry, when healthy, always slips out of the backfield. If Kelly is in, on third down, he’s best suited as a blocking tight end while our play-makers are finding holes in the defense.

Second, there’s an emotional aspect to it. The Bengals tight end position reminds me of the Cincinnati Reds shortstops. There’s always been greats playing there and in our mind, there should always be greats there. We had three-time pro-bowl tight end, Bob Trumpy. We had one time pro-bowl and Super Bowl record setter Dan Ross. We also had three-time pro-bowl Rodney Holman. That’s seven pro-bowls won by Bengals tight ends. Other than 1978 and 1979, at least one of those all-star tight ends were playing for the Bengals from 1968-1992. I think a mention of Tony McGee should also be made. After Holman left, McGee came in and had good seasons, including 1995 with 55 receptions and 754 yards receiving. He left after the 2001 season – the first year Bob Bratkowski was the offensive coordinator.  Hummm.