The Bengals have issues at receiver with A.J. Green set to miss the at least the first week of the regular season, and John Ross hasn’t practiced yet this training camp. Meanwhile, Alex Erickson has quietly gone from sitting on the roster bubble to a lock.
Erickson joined the Bengals in 2016 as an undrafted free agent who seemed like a long shot. He forced his way onto the team as an electric returner during the preseason, and he spent 2016 helping fuel some key drives with long returns.
In recent seasons, he hasn’t been as dynamic of a returner as early on, but he has developed quite the rapport with Andy Dalton. Something that has really flourished this offseason. He has also been able to impress coaches as he has commonly been the first receiver behind Tyler Boyd to take snaps in the slot.
On Thursday, Erickson announced his spot on the roster with a 75 yard punt return in the fourth quarter. It isn’t something Erickson has been able to accomplish during the regular season, but he showed some serious moves on his way to pay dirt.
What matters more than his return against backups though was the fact he caught three catches early on in the game for 15 yards. It isn’t as wowing as the return, but it shows that he is in the plan offensively.
It was clear that the last coaching staff wasn’t ever really keen on using Erickson extensively on offense. They threw him out there, but this staff has several play in place to really utilize his talents in space. Quick end arounds and screens are just a few plays that we should see Erickson run next season.
The Bengals will be forced to make some tough roster decisions. With A.J. Green having to take up a roster spot despite being injured, we could very well see the team start the season with seven receivers. Who those receivers are remains to be seen, but Erickson has earned his spot to be one of them.