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Tanner Hudson has earned his shot

Southern Arkansas alum deserves a spot on 53-man roster

Syndication: The Enquirer
Tanner Hudson makes a catch against the Rams on Monday night football
Albert Cesare/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Tanner Hudson has more than earned his shot.

Hudson, a 2018 free-agent signee of the Tampa Bay, spent time with the Buccaneers (2018-2020, San Francisco (2021) and the New York Giants (2022). He joined the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad late in the 2022 season.

All told, Hudson has played in 33 games over the course of his career with one start. He has recorded 15 catches for 199 during that time and caught 10 passes for 132 yards in 11 games for the Giants.

Hudson began his collegiate career at Memphis as a quarterback, then transferred to Southern Arkansas University, where he changed positions to wide receiver and handled the team’s punting duties. Because of his size (6-5, 239 pounds), Hudson soon transitioned to tight end and caught at least 40 passes with over 600 receiving yards in each of his last three seasons.

As a senior, Hudson had 43 receptions for 624 yards and six touchdowns and was named a second-team All-American by the American Football Coaches Association. He finished his college career with 143 receptions for 2,152 yards and 25 touchdowns.

When the Bengals signed Irv Smith Jr. to be their starting tight end, Hudson seemed relegated to another year on the practice squad. But when the preseason rolled around, Hudson got his chance to impress, and he did not disappoint.

In the preseason-opening loss to the Packers, Hudson had four catches on for 29 yards, with a long of 16 yards, before suffering a concussion. He was back in time for the preseason finale in Washington and had four receptions for 42 yards, including a long of 20 yards.

Despite his impressive showing, Hudson was waived three days later, and then found himself back on the practice squad the next day.

When Smith suffered a hamstring prior to the Monday night game against the Rams, Hudson was elevated from the practice squad to the active roster. He responded with two catches on four targets for 30 yards, with a long of 26 yards, and one first down.

As a practice squad player who had been elevated to the active roster for the game, Hudson automatically reverted to the practice squad the following day.

With Smith still in recovery mode, Hudson was once again elevated from the practice squad yesterday and will be on the active roster when Cincinnati travels to Tennessee today.

Hudson has shown an impressive ability to get open so far and has seemingly earned the trust of Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow. Should that trend continue, it is going to be increasingly difficult to keep Hudson off the active roster in the future.