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With Antonio Bryant Gone: How Bengals Wide Receiver Roster Could Pan Out

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With Antonio Bryant out of the picture, save for an injury grievance that will likely be filed for Bryant's 2010 base salary, the Bengals wide receiver roster appears much clearer. Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens are definite locks. Even though he's played three preseason games, Andre Caldwell has been shutout in two games giving him only two preseason receptions. Still, Caldwell is likely a lock. Hey, what else would you say for a guy that caught two game-winning touchdowns in 2009? "Sorry man, but guys that have far less experience than you are going to make the team over you?" I think not. Jordan Shipley's preseason hasn't just been about the numbers -- he leads the team with 13 receptions. It's also about his crisp routes, catching nearly everything thrown his way and enough awareness to figure out what defenses are trying to do.

That's two spots for Quan Cosby, Jerome Simpson, Matt Jones and Maurice Purify. It'll be interesting to see how this boils down. I believe more now than ever that Cosby is a lock and that the true wide receiver battle remaining comes down to Matt Jones and Jerome Simpson.

REC YRDS YDS/REC TD LONG
Jerome Simpson 6 81 13.5 0 22
Matt Jones 4 54 13.5 0 28

Against the Bills, the first pass thrown to Simpson came with 10:40 left in the fourth quarter. Jordan Palmer threw a pass towards the sidelines while Simpson in. The miscommunication led to an interception return for a touchdown by Bills cornerback Reggie Corner. We're not sure whose in the wrong; Simpson for running the wrong route or Palmer for expecting a different route than what was called. Geoff Hobson wrote: "Word is that he was in the right spot on the Jordan Palmer interception that ended up a TD Saturday."

On the other hand, the first pass thrown to Matt Jones came with 11:56 left in the second quarter.

Could the fact that Jones is on the field against the Bills sooner than Simpson be any indication of which receiver the team favors? Against the Broncos, Jones was in the game as early as the seven minute mark in the second quarter. Simpson came in the game by the third quarter. On the other hand, the team's website has Simpson listed above Jones on the team's depth chart. Favoring Simpson? He's playing on special teams, even recording a kickoff tackle at the 14-yard line.

If you really want your mind blow, what about the Bengals only taking five wide receivers when the season kicks off? Joe Reedy suggests it, saying that they "suit up only five on gamedays and Marvin has done it before (2003-04)."