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Previewing the Bengals’ receiving corps

Sports Illustrated’s James Rapien joins us to talk about John Ross’ potential breakout season, whether A.J. Green is still elite, and more.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

The Bengals have a great amount of talent at the wide receiver position. More importantly, those players complement each other quite well. The only real question is health.

Sports Illustrated’s James Rapien, who also co-hosts the Locked On Bengals podcast, joined us to discuss.

As Rapien wrote late last month, the oft-injured John Ross has focused on his health. The 24-year-old receiver told Rapien that he hired a masseuse and two sports doctors. He’s also more confident than ever, but perhaps the biggest factor is the change at quarterback.

Joe Burrow’s ability to go off script is perfect for a speedster like Ross, who is bound to get free if given enough time. If everything works out for him, the fourth-year receiver will be a regular big-play maker and earn a lucrative contract next offseason.

Then there’s A.J. Green, arguably the greatest receiver in franchise history. The seven-time Pro Bowler missed just four games his first five seasons but has missed 29 since 2016. It’s possible he could have played late last year if the team was in contention. Nonetheless, the minds of fans and coaches will only be put to ease once they see him return to dominant form.

Tyler Boyd’s production is perhaps the easiest to predict. He has a clear role that is different from the other top receivers on the team. He should continue to be consistent and thrive in the slot. Boyd isn’t a burner, but he’s a master of his craft and a gritty football player. You can expect him to continue to get around 1,000 yards a season no matter who is around him.

Fan favorite Auden Tate clearly has great hands. The question for him has always been his ability to get separation. It remains to be seen whether he can get a lot of targets with Green back and rookie Tee Higgins in the fold.

Higgins has been compared to Green, but that doesn’t mean he’ll also be a top five receiver in the league. Green’s athleticism and speed are exceptional for his size, making him one of the best deep threats in the game. If Higgins can win jump balls and be an effective red zone target, the Bengals will be more than pleased, even if he doesn’t approach Green’s incredible production.

The receiver position is stacked in Cincinnati, and despite uncertain health and contract questions looming over the group, the quintet of Green, Boyd, Ross, Higgins and Tate are worth getting excited about.