It's impressive to think that a tight end, who plays a position that requires the strength of an offensive lineman and the speed of a receiver, who has never stepped foot on a professional football field and who hasn't actually hit on any football field over a year, would already be considered the starter for a football team that is a defending division champion. That tight end must be pretty good, and by pretty good, I mean freakishly awesome.
Jermaine Gresham must be freakishly awesome because that is exactly what happened. If all goes according to plan, Gresham will be the new Cincinnati Bengals tight end and will add a whole new dimension to the passing game that Bengals fans haven't seen since the days of Bob Trumpy and Dan Ross. It is fair to say that the Bengals have never had a tight end with the raw physical ability and talent that Gresham possesses.
No matter what you, I or the coaches think, Gresham doesn't believe that he deserves to be considered the starter, at least for right now.
"That shouldn’t be. That’s something that should be earned. For right now there are four guys ahead of me and they deserve to be ahead of me because they’ve been putting in the time. I have to go out there and attack it and have fun."
Good attitude?...... Check.
During his shorter-than-usual-Bengals-holdout, Gresham spent his time in Norman, Oklahoma running drills with college teammate and quarterback Sam Bradford who was also waiting on his contract to be settled in St. Louis.
"It helped out a lot because we knew that we had to be in the best shape we could be in order to come to both camps and compete. Just because the contract wasn’t done we still had to keep the mindset on football."
Coming into camp in shape?...... Check.
Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski says that Gresham will be playing in Sundays Hall of Fame game against the Cowboys. That's when we'll be able to see who and what we have. We can read reports on the Internet all day long, until our faces are blue, about how good the Bengals are on paper and how good they look in practice and who will likely be starting. None of it means anything right now and it won't mean anything until Sunday night when we can sit down and see it for ourselves. It's only preseason but if you believe that preseason won't show you the difference between a Jermaine Gresham and a Daniel Coats or even a Reggie Kelly then you're nuts.
About Gresham, Bratkowski said:
"Give him three or four practices and you’ll be able to tell," Bratkowski said. "He’s got to catch up. Coming out of the new system in the spring it was a process. He’s swimming a little bit. He made some mistakes but did some good things as well."
The coaches seem to like him?..... Check.
Maybe one of the best things that Gresham has going for him is who is right behind him on the depth chart. I can't think of a better teacher or mentor on the Bengals roster than Reggie Kelly. Like Gresham, Kelly wasn't on the football field in a year due to a ruptured Achilles Tendon last season. Gresham seams to have the raw talent to get the receiving part of the tight end job down without much help, as for the blocking part of the job, though, he's lucky to have a teacher like Kelly. Carson Palmer agrees.
"He brings consistency, a work ethic, attitude and a joy - I don't think I've ever gone a day where I didn't see him smile at least 20 times and my locker is right next to his," said Palmer. "We ask him to do so much more than any other tight end in terms of blocking because he's probably one of the greatest blockers that you'll ever see. That's the grunt work. That work sucks. Putting on shoulder pads and a helmet at his age, banging people day-in and day-out is tough. He doesn't want to take a day off. He's happy as heck if he catches a 5-yard route and I love getting him the ball whenever I can ... He acts like he really enjoys all the grunt work, being in the trenches and blocking people. I don't think he really does but he acts like he does. That's what you love about him."
Great mentor and solid support?......Check.
Finally, a tight end story worth writing about that doesn't involve injury?..... CHECK!!!