Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Cody Core made a name for himself late in the 2016 season. With A.J. Green sidelined due to injury, Core had the opportunity to start four games and the 2016 sixth round pick racked up 200 yards on 17 receptions (27 targets) in the process.
This offseason, more competition was added to the wide receiver position, but Core is upping his skillset and making sure it will be too hard for the Bengals to part ways with him come September. Meanwhile, his teammates are taking notice.
“He’s fast,” quarterback Andy Dalton told Bengals.com. “You can tell he’s put in a lot of work. He looks really good.”
“I like Cody Core. He competes every day,” cornerback Adam Jones added. “He’s a good kid. I love guys that can compete, that live to go out and have fun. He can run and he’s going to do all the work going in there blocking. He’s a competing player. Cody has a chance to be something special.”
It’s nice to hear veteran Bengals compliment the young receiver, especially when it comes from the guy who will be throwing him passes. It took some time last season for Dalton and Core to jive, which contributed to Core catching only 63% of balls thrown his way. It also didn't help that in the game during which Core received the most targets, he was going up against then-Texans cornerback A.J. Bouye, who had a breakout season in 2016 and is now with the Jaguars on a 5 year, $67,500,000 contract. Against the Texans, Core caught eight of 14 passes thrown his way for 39 yards (long of 9). In no other game was Core targeted more than five times.
Core says he's added muscle onto his build without gaining weight and is as fast as ever. He spent 12 days at XPE in Boca Raton, Florida working on his speed with Tony Villani. Villani has worked with Maurkice Pouncey, Mark Ingram, Lavonte David and Pierre Garcon, Shane Ray, Vic Beasley and many other NFL stars.
“After my first year I had time to figure out what I wanted to do,” Core said of his offseason work. “How I wanted to train and eat... Just training and being smart. Just wanting to be great.”
And while John Ross and Josh Malone were added in the draft in Rounds 1 and 4 respectively, Core says he’s not worried about the additional competition.
“I didn’t think anything about it,” Core said of the Bengals drafting Ross. “Just another fast guy to add to the mix of a lot of fast guys we have now. I come in every day and just work and do what I’m able to do and do what they brought me in to do. It just helps the team in general. The competition level goes up, which makes you raise your game up. Just to see different guys come in, that helps build the team completion level. Everyone gets better at the same time.”
All indications point to Core truly using the competition as a motivator to improve this offseason. It should be exciting to see how much he’s progressed once training camp rolls around in July.