The Bengals appear ready to add to their depleted tight end depth.
Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson reported at the start of OTAs that Jermaine Gresham sustained an injury, presumably at some point this offseason. Because it could sideline him for voluntary OTAs, Hobson also said the Bengals were looking to bring back reserve tight end Alex Smith.
Tyler Eifert, the other starting tight end, is out with a shoulder injury that is not related to the stinger that limited him to three snaps in last year’s playoff game and it’s unclear when he’ll return.
"It's more of a feel thing. It's not a serious injury," Eifert said.
The Bengals may already have another TE lined up to sign. According to Paul Dehner Jr., Smith technically may already be back with the team:
TE Alex Smith is back in the locker room with a locker and nameplate. Still hasn’t signed. Says he is rehabbing here.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) June 3, 2014
Prior to signing with the Bengals last year, Smith had played in 26 games over the last two seasons for the Cleveland Browns. He caught 27 passes for 178 yards over that span. He also played in more of an H-back type role for the Browns, and that was reflective of his role in Cincinnati.
Smith played in 16 games with one start while playing mostly as a blocking tight end (think Reggie Kelly) in 257 offensive snaps. He caught just three passes for 12 yards and one touchdown.
He’s now played for nine seasons after entering the NFL in 2005 as a third-round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If he is signed, that doesn't bode well for Orson Charles, as it's unclear if he's being specifically used at fullback this year, or if he'll double between that and TE.