Last Wednesday, Bengals.com editor Geoff Hobson joined Nick Seuberling, Mickey Mentzer, Anthony Cosenza and Scott Bantel for the 200th episode of the Inside The Jungle podcast. Hobson was asked about a myriad of topics, mainly surrounding the performance of the team through OTAs and minicamp. The Bengals.com head man graciously spent about 45 minutes with the crew talking about the 2015 Cincinnati Bengals.
One part of the interview with Hobson that some might find fascinating was his take on the Bengals wide receiver group. A.J. green is back healthy, as is Marvin Jones, and the team added Denarius Moore in free agency and Mario Alford in the draft. All is copacetic, right? No so fast, says Hobson after Bantel asked him about the group.
SB: With the injuries that they suffered at wide receiver and the moves that they've made to address the depth there, they made a couple of moves, they're getting James Wright back healthy, Marvin Jones back healthy--how have the receivers looked in camp so far?
GH: I think they need another one. I think I'd go get one. I'm talking about a cutdown day, maybe later in camp. Because I'm with you, I'm thinking back to when the cupboard was bare, you know? Now, the first three looked good. Marvin Jones looks to have bounced back from the ankle problems, A.J. looks good--the toe seems to be okay, the bicep and concussion are forgetten. And, Mo looks good. Wright was not there, now we're hearing that he should be back for the first day of Training Camp, and that's all well and good, but the fact is that we don't know if they were taking care of him in the spring or what, he just wasn't out there. You need four guys, and they only have three. I think Alford's a nice pick in the seventh round, I think he's a project. They might be able to get a little bit out of him this year, but certainly not a guy you can look for in a down-to-down basis. You need help. Are they going to go with Brandon Tate again? I think it depends on how Alford catches punts and returns punt during the preseason. If he can do that, then maybe he'll beat out Brandon, but nobody is beating out Brandon as a receiver here. Moore, Cobi Hamilton, nobody has really stood up here. I don't know. I'd like to see them get another veteran receiver. There's not much out there right now, so that might have to come in the latter part of Training Camp after cuts.
(Mickey Mentzer followed up with a question about Dane Sanzenbacher)
MM: So, Geoff, you talked a little bit about returning kicks...my other question is, and I'm dipping back into my Buckeye roots, Dane Sanzenbacher. He's familiar with the team, I don't think he's anywhere right now, and at times, he came up huge for this club. I honsetly feel like he was underutilized....I'm curious why he's not signed and why he wouldn't be considered here?
GH: I think he got dinged up at the end there, so I'm not sure how healthy they thought he was. My sense was that at the end of the year they weren't going to offer him anyway. We're here now and I think they're going to move on from him and they've made up their mind. I don't think they go back and sign him, but I think they've got to go get somebody. Later in the year it seemed like they didn't rely on him.
If the "big three" at wide receiver can remain healthy, Hobson's take on them needing another wideout might seem unnecessary. However, given the stable of receiving options Andy Dalton had to work with in the playoff loss to Indianapolis, the more hands on deck, the better.
ESPN Bengals reporter Coley Harvey must also be an ITJ listener, as he addressed this question on a mailbag piece he put together over the weekend.
For those who don't know, Wanderer is referring to Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson, who on a podcast earlier this week indicated he felt the Bengals needed more help at receiver. He thought they should turn to free agency, perhaps at the end of training camp, to pick up another veteran. To his point, we really didn't see much this spring out of those vying for the final couple of spots on the roster.
Personally, I'm in wait-and-see mode. I want to see what the receivers are all able to do in camp when the pads come out. So I guess for now, no, I don't agree with him. That said, in terms of numbers, you have to figure the Bengals keep six receivers this season. After Green, Jones and Mohamed Sanu, Wright likely fits in the mix, as well as at least one of the three speedy potential kick/punt-returning wide outs (Denarius Moore, Brandon Tate and Mario Alford). If I had to pick one player from that trio, it would be Alford, leaving one open spot. Maybe it does go to a veteran, or maybe the Bengals keep two receivers on the practice squad and keep just five receivers on the 53-man roster, effectively opening a spot elsewhere. Based on the number of injuries that ransacked the unit last season, though, I have a hard time seeing that happening.
Harvey's sentiment also makes sense because there are limited looks as to the true abilities of certain players until "the pads come out" and guy actually play in preseason games. Maybe some of the youngsters falter, leaving room for veterans they trust more like Tate or Moore. Perhaps Alford lights it up as a returner and his speed becomes indispensable.
Harvey and Hobson are right in one aspect for the moment, though: don't be shocked if the Bengals make moves after final cuts. They've made waiver claims (Tate) and even swung trades (Reggie Nelson) shortly before the season began in the past, they could always do it again.