When Josh Malone was selected with a fourth-round pick in this past 2017 NFL Draft, he faced a pretty daunting task of securing playing time, if not a roster spot.
Not only did the Cincinnati Bengals roster feature the elite A.J. Green as their top receiving weapon, it also had a solid veteran in Brandon LaFell, plus last year’s second-round pick Tyler Boyd, and this year’s first-round pick, speedster John Ross.
That was along with promising second-year receivers Alex Erickson and Cody Core, both of whom looked primed for bigger offensive roles in 2017. Malone ultimately made the Bengals roster, and after watching from the sidelines for five weeks, he made the Bengals’ active roster in a Week 7 loss in Pittsburgh. That game included Malone getting one pass thrown his way, which actually turned into an interception.
This week, Malone made his presence felt by not only securing his first NFL catch, but scoring his first NFL touchdown in the process.
After the game, head coach Marvin Lewis commented on Malone’s big play.
“The touchdown throw to Josh (Malone) — we had an unblocked guy coming in (to pressure Dalton), and (Josh) beat the coverage,” Lewis said. “(Andy) was able to hang in there and make the throw to Josh for the touchdown.
“Obviously they didn’t have enough to cover and we didn’t have enough to block. He was able to hang in there and make the throw, and that was big. It was a big play in the game.”
Malone now has an NFL catch and touchdown to his credit – both of which are absent so far from the resume of first-round pick John Ross. Malone suddenly jumped into fourth among the Bengals receiving touchdown leaders this season. His one touchdown reception puts him ahead of Core, Erickson, and Boyd, as well as tight end Tyler Eifert, and places him in a tie with Brandon LaFell.
Malone also had a 10-yard reception to go along with his 25 yard scoring catch on Sunday. He was obviously happy about finally having the chance to show that he could contribute for the Bengals’ struggling offense.
“After the play I went up to Andy on the sidelines and told him thank you for giving me the opportunity to make a play,” Malone said.
Malone has firmly planted his foot down in the mix at wide receiver for the Bengals, and with the status of both Boyd and Core up in the air, Malone could see more opportunities to produce for the team going forward.