Sunday, July 22, 2001

Handicapping the competition at wide receiver

By Mark Curnutte
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Aside from quarterback, competition for roster spots and playing time is most intense at Bengals training camp at wide receiver. The players and projections for the upcoming season.

        • Darney Scott. Eighth-year pro returns as most-watched player in training camp following season-ending broken leg. Has career average of 15.7 yards a catch. Team averaged 10.7 yards in 2000. Has touchdown receptions of 70-plus yards in four of six NFL seasons. Bengals long pass play in 2000 was 46 yards by Peter Warrick in opener.

        Projection: Starter.

        • Peter Warrick. Scott's return moves Warrick to best position in slot, which puts him in the middle of the field to use his quickness. Motivated to improve on team-best 51 receptions, 592 yards and four TD passes.

        Projection: Starter.

        • Chad Johnson. Already declared team's third receiver after showing speed, good hands during minicamp. Another outside threat who has run a 4.33 40-yard dash. Averaged 21.8 yards a catch for No. 4 Oregon State last year.

        Projection. Third receiver in three-receiver sets but expectations are high.

        • Ron Dugans. Held out as rookie and suffered nagging hamstring injury. Rushed after Scott's injury. Started five games but held to 14 receptions for 125 yards. AAEmbarrassed” by 2000 performance. Impressed coaches with speed, quickness and fluid moves in spring drills.

        Projection: Will make team and play regularly.

        • Danny Farmer. Had 10 receptions in last two games for 156 yards. At 6-foot-3, 215 pounds, added size to small receiving corps.

        Projection: On the bubble.

        • Damon Griffin. Had two receptions in eight games. Third-year pro was second on team with nine special teams tackles.

        Projection: Probable cut.

        • Craig Yeast. Had 24 catches a year ago and started seven games. Valued punt returner, but return average dropped from 20.9 yards in 1999 to 6.6 yards last year.

        Projection: Possible cut.

        • Chad Plummer. Finished season on Bengals practice squad after appearing in three games with Colts. No receptions. But Bengals scouts and coaches like his work ethic, speed and size (6-3, 212).

        Projection. Sleeper to make the team but a possible cut.

        • T.J. Houshmandzadeh. Another big receiver at 6-1, 197 who led Oregon State with 48 receptions. Averaged 18 yards on kickoff returns and 9.4 on punt returns.

        Projection: Probable to make squad on special teams and as last receiver.

        • Malcolm Johnson. Two receptions in parts of two NFL seasons for 6-5, 215 pound wide out. Began career in Pittsburgh, where position coach was Bengals offensive coordinator Bob Bratkowski. Waived by Jets on June 1.

        Projection: Likely cut.

        • Ramondo North. Undrafted college free agent from North Carolina A&T is a threat on kickoff and punt returns but has little opportunity to crack crowded group.

        Projection: Early camp cut.


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