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Bengals tight ends weren't always just blockers

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The fellow that recorded Super Bowl XVI to the DVD I bought off eBay, must have had a horrible day aligning his $3 antenna. There was a lot of static; which is a big culture shock in this HD world. When the game was played, I was only three years old and didn't live in a family that was rich with football fanaticism. At the time, I could name off stats about nearly every baseball player. But, even living in Minnesota, I had no idea the implications of the legendary Herschel Walker trade at the time. I didn't become a fan of the game until I moved to Cincinnati while the Bengals were in the midst of their second Super Bowl run.

So I had to play catch up.

I bought the Super Bowl XVI DVD and watched it with some pals.

This was my first full game experience with tight end Dan Ross. Having seen him, among other Bengals tight ends throughout the ages, its no wonder why more veteran Bengals fans demand a pass catching tight end. It's somewhat like shortstop with the Cincinnati Reds. Dave Concepcion and Barry Larkin held the position for over 34 seasons combining for 4,666 hits. You always expected that position to hold tremendous talent.

For 24 seasons, the combination of Bob Trumpy, Dan Ross and Rodney Holman consisted of a tight end catching culture. While with the Bengals, all three combined for 879 receptions, 12,153 yards receiving and 85 touchdowns. Even during the Age of Helplessism, Tony McGee, tight end after Holman, had some good seasons. From 1993 to 1997, McGee caught 211 passes for 2,631 yards and 15 touchdowns. After '97, McGee's numbers were very ordinary -- you can blame the talent at Quarterback. McGee's numbers are impressive between '93-'97 because of the gun slingers the Bengals put at quarterback. David Klingler never threw for 2,000 yards passing with a season high of 6 touchdowns. I liked Jeff Blake, but he really only had two good seasons -- including a '95 Pro Bowl.

When McGee left, the age of pass catching tight end went down hill quickly. Matt Schobel from 2002-2005, caught 90 passes for 938 yards and nine touchdowns -- that's averages out to 22 receptions, 234 yards and 2 touchdowns a season. Tony Stewart, through five seasons, averaged 10 receptions, 82 yards receiving with a total of 2 touchdowns. Reggie Kelly, before 2006, hadn't caught more than 15 passes as a Bengal. Through four seasons, Kelly is averaging 16 receptions, 127 yards with three total touchdowns.

Since McGee left, the Bengals have used tight end to either block, or solidify special teams. If it works, it works. However, the Bengals started out their franchise with a passing catching tight end culture that most veteran Bengals fans -- even younger fans -- today, wish to revitalize.

That's likely not to change anytime soon. Even with Reggie Kelly, the Bengals have picked up, this off-season, large tight ends to compliment Kelly, not fellows like Dan Ross.

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