With Tyler Kroft, C.J. Uzomah, and Tyler Eifert all in contract years and Eifert being a constant injury concern, the Bengals decided to keep four tight ends, including 2017 seventh-round pick Mason Schreck on the 53-man roster.
After spending his rookie season on Injured/Reserve, Schreck led the team in receiving this preseason with nine receptions for 118 yards. His performance, specifically from the final two games, showed that he is a versatile target in the passing game, who can also hold his own as a blocker.
Here, Schreck runs a deep dig route against the Buffalo Bills. He is in a two-point stance at the bottom of the picture. He has a good release, taking a jab step to the inside first hoping to avoid a jam by the linebacker lined up over him (not actually the linebacker’s assignment in this case).
The ball is thrown a little behind him, but Schreck adjusts and makes the catch. He holds on to the ball despite getting hit form two different angles.
Schreck over the middle pic.twitter.com/4U9aYv4gHx— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) August 27, 2018
Schreck lines up at tight end on the bottom of the screen and runs the out route at a depth of about 12 yards. He adjusts to the ball that was thrown behind him and makes the catch, then turns up field.
With two defenders closing in, he looks to overpower the first, then leaps to try and beat the second into the end zone.
More Schreck pic.twitter.com/DLNRvf9sE4— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) August 27, 2018
This display of strength and athleticism would have been a SportsCenter Top 10 contender, if he had only held on to the ball. Schreck fumbles the ball in mid-air and fortunately it bounce out at the 2-yard line instead on in the end zone, so the Bengals maintain possession.
Schreck also had a ball security issue against the Indianapolis Colts in the Bengals’ final preseason game. He makes a catch on this deep out and turns the ball up field to gain yardage.
As he concentrates on bowling over the defender in front of him, another defender comes in from behind him and pops the ball out. Luckily, the ball bounces out of bounds, and no harm is done, but if Schreck continues to put the ball on the ground, his luck will eventually run out and it will end up costing the team when it counts.
Another highlight by Schreck that almost became a highlight for the other team due to ball security issues pic.twitter.com/Vzblm09kal— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) September 3, 2018
Schreck lines up on the right side of the formation on this play and runs an over route on the bootleg. He catches the ball and turns it up field, and he took a violent shot to his head and neck.
Pretty smart play by Schreck trying to slide rather than step out of bounds and stop the clock pic.twitter.com/ONbJs6SeLM— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) August 27, 2018
Schreck does not seem to know how to take a hit in general. When he goes down he goes down hard. This situation was different, though. He slide to give himself up, which is a weird move for a non-quarterback but was pretty smart given the situation.
The Bengals had the lead inside of the two-minute warning and Schreck was running along the sideline. Sliding prevented him from ending the play out of bounds and stopping the clock.
Schreck is not just a big receiver. Here, he lines up in a three-point stance in a traditional tight end alignment. He releases up to Colts safety George Odum, who is lined up at linebacker depth. He gets good extension and pushes the defender down the field.
He should stay engaged a little longer, but, a quality rep nonetheless.
Schreck working up to the safety pic.twitter.com/Pb3g9f8D7R— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) September 2, 2018
Schreck is the tight end on the line of scrimmage here (not Cethan Carter who motions to the wing). Schreck comes off the ball and instantly engages with the defensive end. It is a combo block with the right tackle, and as Colts linebacker Najee Goode flows over the top, Schreck comes off the first-level block with great timing, engages with the linebacker, and pushes him out of the gap.
Schreck (86) working the combo pic.twitter.com/I1jEuDQgNy— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) September 2, 2018
With the release of Ryan Hewitt, the Bengals will look for more versatility out of their tight ends. And it is likely that trio of Uzomah, Schreck, and possibly Kroft will be used in the backfield as h-backs.
Schreck has done some of this during the preseason; helping in pass protection with chip blocks. Here. he swipes across the formation and adjusts well to make a quick catch as an outlet for the quarterback.
Schreck swipes across the formation and makes the reception pic.twitter.com/35ygBRhsJt— Matt Minich (@CoachMinich) September 2, 2018
The Bengals keeping four tight ends came as a surprise to some, but with uncertainty about the future of the position, keeping the talented Schreck was a no-brainer. Schreck is a playmaker in the pass game and a good run blocker. He has also shown the versatility to take on Hewitt’s role.
Schreck will need to improve his ball security, but looks to have a bright future in the Bengals offense.