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Bengals WR Simpson Has Kept His Nose in the Playbook

There have been a few schools of thought on Jerome Simpson's inability to get any playing time for the vast majority of his three year career as a Bengals wide receiver. One school of thought is that he had a hard time adjusting to the NFL offense, especially one as complicated as Bob Bratkowski's, having come from small Coastal Carolina University. Another is that he didn't get any playing time because he was always stuck behind Chad Ochocinco, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Laveranues Coles or Terrell Owens. This one would make a lot of sense because Simpson flourished once he was actually given a chance to play at the end of the 2010 season. A third school of thought may be a combination of the first two.

Despite his success at the end of the 2010 season, fans are still concerned about what he can offer the team in 2011. Nothing against the guy, but he is kind of a one-hit-wonder and he hasn't done much to prove that he can produce the way he did at the end of 2010 for an entire season. If the team lets Ochocinco go, they will rely on Simpson to be the No. 2 receiver and play opposite of A.J. Green.

For those of you who find this terrifying, especially those of you who believe it was Simpson's inability to learn the playbook and understand the pro game, Simpson is excited about the new offense and has kept his nose buried in his playbook since he got it.

"I've kept my nose in the playbook during the lockout and it suits me perfectly," Simpson said. "It has the routes that I love to run. Jay brings a lot to the offense and has an open mind as well as easy to talk to. I'm excited because this offense is wide open and will best utilize the players' talent.

"This year we're going to have a team. It's not going to be about individuals but about the team working together and getting along. The last three games of the season there was so much excitement. Everybody wanted to play and compete."

There, does that make you feel better?

Regardless of what Simpson says, he's going to need to prove to us that he can produce for an entire season and not just two games at the end of one. If he can do that, he'll likely secure his place as a Bengals receiver for a few more years (he's entering the last year of his contract now) where he'll play beside A.J. Green, Jordan Shipley and Jermaine Gresham.

Even though the Bengals aren't expected to fight for the AFC North title or get anywhere close to the playoffs in 2011, when I see comments like this, I get excited and hopeful that the team might pull something off.

I can't wait for September.