It wasn’t too long ago that Jake Kumerow, a 2015 undrafted receiver out of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, was discussed as being on track to secure one of the Bengals’ last roster spots at wide receiver. Fans and coaches alike loved his tenacity, work ethic, and highly competitive nature. He made the practice squad last year after impressing in training camp and the preseason and showed enough that he was seen as a guy who could potentially break out and secure a roster spot this year.
He had a few impressive catches in minicamp, confirming his spot as a player to watch this offseason. But, a hamstring injury kept him out for much of training camp, as well as the Bengals’ second preseason game against the Lions. Losing that much potential playing time could be very costly for the fringe player who needed to impress to take advantage of the roster shakeup at wide receiver.
Granted, he hasn’t been completely irrelevant. In the first week of the preseason, he did record a nice seven yard catch that appeared to be help build momentum on a drive before Keith Wenning threw a terrible interception. But, he later on missed out on a big catch in the endzone.
Since that first preseason game, he has been completely silent. He was kept out of the Bengals’ Preseason Week 2 excursion to Detroit and didn’t record a single catch against the Jaguars in Preseason Week 3, despite being targeted twice.
As of right now, it looks like the top three wide receiver spots will belong to A.J. Green, Brandon LaFell, and Tyler Boyd. The next two, you would have to say are a battle between James Wright and Cody Core for the No. 4 and No. 5 roles. And, that the final spot on the roster is a battle between Brandon Tate and Alex Erickson, with Erickson looking like the current favorite to win, depending on who you ask.
Even if the Bengals do decide to keep seven receivers, Kumerow still seems to be significantly on the outside looking in.
With Michael Bennett and Antwane Grant being cut yesterday, Kumerow appears to have survived the first wave of cuts. But, he still needs to fight off the injured Mario Alford, Alonzo Russell, and Rashaun Simonise to have a chance, all of whom have performed significantly better than Kumerow when on the field. Barring a standout performance through the rest of the week in practice and on Thursday against the Colts, it would seem as though Kumerow has all but missed his opportunity to make the roster this year. Though, he could cling onto the practice squad for a second year.
It’s unfortunate that a talented player like Kumerow, who once looked so promising, has disappeared during the preseason.
In addition to Kumerow, third string tight end C.J. Uzomah has struggled mightily in the passing game so far this preseason. He did make one 10 yard catch against the Jaguars on Sunday, but it isn’t enough to make up for his overall lack of production.
Despite being targeted a total of four times this preseason, that 10-yard catch was Uzomah’s only one of the preseason. In fact, on that very same drive against the Jaguars, Andy Dalton tried to get Uzomah the ball twice before he was actually able to haul one in. Even his 10-yard catch was relatively ineffective as it happened on a third down in which they needed 15 yards. Had it not been for Tyler Boyd bailing the offense out on the ensuing fourth-and-five play, which would have been a punt in the regular season, Uzomah’s ineffectiveness would have directly led to handing the ball right back to the Jaguars.
The fact of the matter is Uzomah isn’t doing well getting open. When he does, he can’t seem to pull the play together to make anything happen. It’s a particularly bad situation seeing that he has essentially become the Bengals’ default starting tight end while Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft are recovering from injuries.
Fortunately for Uzomah, he isn’t facing much competition at his position, unlike Kumerow. Injuries to both Eifert and Kroft will create a need for other players to fill in at tight end. But, fourth-string tight end Matt Lengel hasn’t exactly given Uzomah a run for his money this preseason and likely won’t survive the next wave of cuts.
Uzomah probably won’t be trusted much as a pass catcher when the regular season rolls around, but unlike Kumerow, his spot on the team is safe.