Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham had an epiphany during the 2012 NFL Pro Bowl in January. At least that's Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis' perspective. During Tuesday's press conference, Lewis said of Gresham:
"I think Jermaine (Gresham) going to the Pro Bowl last year was the best teaching, coaching experience we could ever have with him for him to mature. He's a different man -- very, very confident in himself."
That's not all.
Gresham has been the subject of comments by Lewis and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden throughout the offseason, on more than one occasion remarking that Gresham has much work remaining to improve several aspects of his overall game. Keep in mind that this isn't a criticism. Rather an acknowledgement that Gresham's skillset has an undiscovered ceiling and the team is working with Gresham to translate that into production.
"Jermaine has got to work at it every day, no question about it," Gruden said. "He's come a long way with his route discipline and knowledge of the offense with the run game, especially. Just have to keep repping him. Some of the concepts where he has to read coverages on the move he has to get better at."
"When he's right, he can be an awesome target for Andy," Gruden said. "And it's our job to get him right more often than not and it's his job to keep working."
"We've got to do a good job getting him more involved downfield and he's got to make sure he's more accountable for the quarterback," Gruden said. "The quarterback has to feel the confidence he can go to Jermaine when Jermaine is ready and in the right spot. When he gets to that point I would expect him to put up some strong numbers."
Gresham is projected to be the No. 1 within a high-caliber two-tight end formation with fourth-round rookie Orson Charles joining the team in late April. And for his part, Charles is leaving quite the impression. Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said of Charles:
"Orson has exceeded in every way my expectations," he said. "I knew he was a big, strong guy. But his ability to run and catch the ball has been impressive."
Jay Gruden added:
"Physically he's shown things that are very exciting," said Gruden, who lobes Charles's route running. "His strength is unreal."
While some are drawing early comparisons to the tight end duo in New England (a tad bit premature in our opinion), few are refuting the level of talent from both tight ends, eagerly anticipating the translation into production. Either way, Andy Dalton is loving life right now.