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Cullen: Opportunity knocks for Bengals receivers

Scott Cullen
8/15/2012 10:18:13 AM
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One of the primary factors to consider when looking for sleepers that might exceed expecations is the potential for playing time. It's nearly impossible to produce without at least getting on the field.

In Cincinnati this season, the wide receiver position opens up behind second-year rising star A.J. Green, especially now that Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell have moved on to new teams. Green, who led rookies with 1057 yards receiving last season, should continue his career ascent, but there will be others that need to be part of the passing game.

There are three leading candidates for those roles. Speedster Brandon Tate, the former Patriots receiver who joined the Bengals as a kickoff and punt returner last season, made a mark with New England in 2010, catching 24 passes for 432 yards (18.0 yards per catch) in part-time duty, so if he turns out to be the tone starting across from Green, Tate could be a viable big-play deep threat.

Armon Binns, a 6-foot-3 receiver who spent last season on the practice squad after he was cut by the Jacksonville Jaguars, has opened eyes in camp. He scored 21 touchdowns in 25 games over his last two seasons at the University of Cincinnati and offers a sizeable target in the possession game.

Tate might be more of a playmaker and his experience should give him the edge.

A wildcard in the discussion could be Jordan Shipley, who had 52 catches for 600 yards in 2010, but only managed four catches for 14 yards before tearing his ACL last season. Shipley is in camp with the Bengals and trying to get back to his pre-injury form, but he may require some faith from the coaching staff -- based on his rookie year production -- if he's not up to full speed by the time the season starts.

Ultimately, the Bengals' passing game is going to be driven by quarterback Andy Dalton along with Green and tight end Jermaine Gresham, but there is an opportunity for a secondary receiver to step in and put up some yardage. Pick the right one and you might have a late-round value pick on draft day.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.



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