Over the weekend we offered an alternative approach at wide receiver, projecting several scenarios that the Bengals could go that's not necessarily mainstream -- going seven receivers (like they did in '12), Hawkins going on IR (before Marvin Lewis said anything because we believe he's reading CJ regularly now). Our aim is to consider alternatives to projected solutions that we believe could be a factor when weighing the roster.
Let's shift gears and talk about fullback/tight end. We've buried these scenarios within previous stories and many of you have commented on similar scenarios. In truth, we're only talking about one.
TWO FULLBACKS, TIGHT ENDS
This isn't "outside of the box" thinking in reality, considering that many of us (staff and commenters) have approached the idea. In a way it makes a little sense and combines the projected discussions of fullback and tight end into one category.
Instead of the traditional three tight end roster with one accompanying fullback, we're thinking that the Bengals are favoring a two-by-two approach. Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert are locked into the roster as tight ends. There's no disputing that. Actually if you dispute this, you'll be banned off the internet to join Al Gore's manhunt for Manbearpig.
Here's the thinking.
With Gresham and Eifert at tight end, the Bengals will keep one bulldog blocking fullback and use Orson Charles as the H-Back that he's being groomed as. For short-yardage situations, someone like Chris Pressley or John Conner blocks for BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Charles enters the game during balanced situations where it could be a pass or run. A servicable effort as a blocker against the Falcons, we're not trusting Charles enough to unleash hell's fury when the team needs a critical third down conversion. But to expand the playbook with one more threat in the passing game?
The advantage of having someone like Charles is that you also incorporate a third tight end. If there's an injury (Gersham has yet to play a full 16-game schedule) or a scenario calling for jumbo package (everyone in on the same play), Charles is that third tight end, or fourth fulltightbackend (whatever). It even allows for the Bengals to have a duel-tight formation with Eifert playing splitting out wide (though that's probably not likely, in all honesty).
Now here's the thing that you have to consider.
Instead of thinking one-dimensionally at a single position, both positions now are combined as one. No longer are we discussing who the third tight end is, or who starts at fullback because the discourse has shifted. Keeping Gresham and Eifert locked into the 53-man roster, and assuming that Charles is probably safe, we're down to the fourth and final spot on fulltightbackend (yep) between Conner, Pressley, and Alex Smith. Will the team keep the natural tight end in Smith and start Charles at full back? Or will the Bengals keep a natural fullback in Conner or Pressley, and place Charles as the utility player as a backup to both positions?
It really boils down to a position battle between Smith, Pressley, and Conner.