Last season, the Bengals drafted two wide receivers who played roles for the team in A.J. Green and Ryan Whalen. While Green had an impact from day one, Whalen found his niche late in the year playing the slot. Because of the legal situation surrounding Jerome Simpson and the fact that his rookie contract is expiring, the Bengals have a large void that they need to fill with a viable No.2 wide receiver.
After he was cut after the 2011 preseason, the Bengals placed former University of Cincinnati wide receiver, Armon Binns, on their Practice Squad. He remained there for the entirety of the season with the exception of the season's final two games. Even though he was inactive for those two games, he flashed enough throughout the season without even playing a down that the coaching staff feels that he could be ready to take the next step in 2012. With this hope, the team could be confident enough in Binns to give him a shot to win the other starting wide receiver job, opposite Green.In speaking about Binns with Bengals.com Editor Geoff Hobson, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden was extremely flattering in his praise of the young wide receiver:
"I think he can do a lot more than maybe people anticipated him doing," says Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. "If he shows up in shape and in the right frame of mind, I foresee him making a major impact with our offense next year. I think he's got a great feel on how to get open. He's a big guy and a great target and the quarterbacks like him because he's such a good target and he's proved he can run inside and outside routes."
If it sounds like all of the necessary tools are there with Binns, it's because they are. The next step is putting it all together on the field and proving that Binns can be the reliable target that second-year quarterback Andy Dalton needs. He's been working hard to get the chance to prove that he can be that guy, as he has been working out in the gym and on the field with some other former Bearcats (including current Bengal wideout, Vidal Hazelton).
The position battle going into 2012 is wide open and if Hobson is correct in his estimation, the team will likely be looking internally at a guy like Binns, or within the first few picks in the draft to fill the spot--not in free agency. Gruden admits that Binns will be "in the mix" to compete next year, and if he wins the position battle it would be quite a story for the local product.
We'll see what happens when the position battle ensues this summer. May the best man win.