Cobi Hamilton felt spurned.
Following Cincinnati's preseason finale against the Indianapolis Colts, Hamilton indirectly expressed confidence that he had made the 53-man roster. "We had a pretty good preseason as a unit. We’ll come back to work Monday and get ready for Baltimore. I’m excited," he said prior to final cuts. Cincinnati shied away from Hamilton with a "nah" and elected to keep seventh-round pick, James Wright... who didn't even post a reception during his senior year at LSU.
Cincinnati wanted to bring Hamilton back to their practice squad, where he spent his entire rookie season last year. Instead he signed with Philadelphia's practice squad on Sept. 10, 2014 until Oct. 6 when he was released. Cincinnati welcomed him back a week later. The Bengals placed Dane Sanzenbacher on season-ending Injured Reserve Wednesday, promoting Hamilton to the 53-man roster.
If numbers are what does it for you, than how about this: Cobi Hamilton was the recipient of 20 targets during the preseason. He caught eight and dropped a league-high three passes. Three others (Willie Snead, Chris Hogan, and Andre Holmes) dropped as many as he did -- but no one in the NFL dropped more during the preseason.
In truth, it's not fair to blame every missed completion to Hamilton -- especially when you had Cincinnati's crop of stellar backup quarterback performances to look forward to. Matt Scott and Tyler Wilson had their share of overthrows, underthrows and panic-throws. Let's generously say that, maybe, half of those incomplete passes that targeted Hamilton were not his fault -- hell, an NFL technician was forced to add any name to the targeted receiver... and since Hamilton was in the state of Ohio, he must have been the target.
Sometimes, they were on him.
Such as this third down scenario from Arizona's nine-yard line in preseason week No. 3 with 11:26 to go in the fourth. Hamilton had single-man coverage, an accurate Jason Campbell football and plenty of room beyond the first down marker. A perfect combination. It was all working in his favor.
The pass slid through Hamilton's hands and the Bengals were forced to take a 16-13 lead on a Quinn Sharp field goal. OK, a final score in the preseason means nothing to any of us; but recalling an easy catch going incomplete, which promotes the difference of four points (a reality that semi-decent NFL teams witness every week), can be a sticking point when discussing the team's chemical development. With 1:14 remaining in the second quarter against New York, Hamilton corralled a Matt Scott pass down the sidelines. A south-of-the-border hit knocked the football free.
OK - that's the type of hit that we should write off as "unfortunate" that could happen to anyone (usually helmet + football = buh-bye football). How many passes has A.J. Green dropped? Plenty. However Green isn't a former sixth-round pick fighting for a roster spot, losing the football on a tough hit in front of his own bench.
Hamilton finished the preseason with eight receptions (third-most on the team), 127 yards receiving (second on the team) and a touchdown that went 50 yards (which was an awesome combination of instinct and speed). Yet, poor preseason performances led to Hamilton being one of 13 players waived by the Bengals during final cuts.
Due to his production in practice and special teams contributions, Cincinnati went with seventh-round rookie James Wright as their sixth receiver. "James has done a great job in practices as a receiver," Lewis said via the Cincinnati Enquirer in early September. "Every opportunity he's had on special teams he does some good things he's still learning to do it completely right. ... We just like what his upside is and his athleticism and everything that is about him."
Wright also scored an impressive touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during the team's preseason opener.
And it's not like Wright successfully applied a mechanism of flawlessness. He had four special teams penalties, a concussion and only two receptions. How in the... This explores the question: Did Wright really win the job or did Hamilton lose something that was his to lose?
Either way, Hamilton has another chance and considering the team's options at wide receiver... it might be significant.