Posted on: October 22, 2010 6:20 pm
Edited on: October 29, 2010 6:54 pm
Posted by Josh Katzowitz
The Bengals were supposed to have one of the best receiving corps in the league. With the addition of Terrell Owens – no matter what you think of him off the field, he can still produce – joining Chad Ochocinco, rookie WR Jordan Shipley and rookie TE Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati successfully fulfilled its offseason mission in providing weapons for QB Carson Palmer.
Why, then, are the Bengals struggling on offense?
This week, we talked to Cincinnati receivers coach Mike Sheppard, who’s been in the organization for the past four years and who previously was the head coach at New Mexico and Long Beach State. We asked him about the addition of Owens, why Ochocinco has scored only once this year and what it’s like to be a Hall of Famer.
1. CBSSports : Coming off a loss and a bye week, you’re one of those teams that – and there are probably 10 teams out there like this – you’re not sure what you’re going to get out of them every week. You just don’t have any idea. Where are you guys right now?
Mike Sheppard : From my standpoint there’s still an adjustment with a lot of the players together. It looks like we have some better players, but in the passing game, in reality, Palmer is throwing to only one guy he’s seen before. Terrell, for all that he’s achieved, he’s still new here. We have a rookie tight end and a rookie slot receiver. For anybody, there’s always that adjustment period. We’re still going through it.
CBS : Obviously, you can’t put a number on how long that lasts, but you’d like to think – we’re in the middle of October – that at some point soon, that adjustment will get to where you want it to be.
Sheppard : Yeah, I think so. It has to happen soon. Everybody is aware of it. Everybody is working hard to continue to play together and learn each other better. Sometimes you can’t construct the experience in practice that they’ll see in a game. It’s a matter of playing together. I think we get a little better each time. It’s a matter of being able to put it all together.
2. CBS : There was a lot of talk in the offseason about Owens and whether anybody wanted him. For a long time, nobody did want him. I know he worked out here(in the offseason, and he was just OK. But now that he’s been here, he seems to be playing well.
Sheppard : He’s been great for me.
CBS : Tell me about that whole thing. I know there was some trepidation in the organization about signing him. It was between him and Antonio Bryant, and you guys signed Bryant originally.
Sheppard : The decision there was more about youth. They’re both good players. At that point, that was that decision. In the beginning, we all felt (Owens) would make us better. That’s been true. For me personally, he’s hungry. He listens. He wants to do it your way. He’s like Chad in both of those guys have had some success doing things that are instinctive. He’s been a hard worker. He’s been a player for us. So far, it’s just a matter of getting that experience with Carson.
3. CBS : How disappointing was the Bryant thing? The team sunk a lot of money into him, and he never got healthy.
Sheppard : All of us were. Not disappointed in him, but disappointed he never kicked that (injury). Now, he’s a football player. He has the right approach. He went hard. He talked, and he backed it up. He would have been an excellent addition if he was physically the player he was in the past.
4. CBS : Chad Ochocinco is struggling a little bit. He’s not getting the ball thrown to him as much as T.O. What’s going on with him?
Sheppard : If I’m not mistaken, he got 12 balls thrown to him in the first game. You look at that, and maybe it’s not so true. He’s had some chances. But things tend to come in bunches. In his case, he hasn’t had the same opportunities that he had that first game. Those are things where it’s a lot more about the opportunities. Everything has to be right to get the ball, not just have the play designed to go to you. It has to be right with the style of coverage they play. Sometimes we call the right play and get the wrong coverage.
CBS : Chad has been one touchdown away from breaking the club record for touchdowns for, like, six weeks. It’s bizarre he’s not scoring touchdowns. It just seems a little odd, because it’s been so prevalent the past six or seven years.
Sheppard : If you look at it, you’re going to be hard-pressed to remember any throws in the end zone to him. He’s the straw that stirs the drink here. He’s the guy that everybody knows we’re going to attempt to get him the football. They start with him (defensively). A lot of it is because they’re aware of Chad and what he’s doing.
CBS : The only one I remember is when Chad was going across the back of the end zone, and it was tipped or he missed it or something like that.
Sheppard : That was a hard deal, because the throw was supposed to go the other way. It can come back to Chad late, but the way it worked out was it was more of a quick scramble by Carson, and as Chad started to come open, Carson had to throw it before he knew where (Ochocinco) was going to be. So, he just took a guess, and it was a little bit overshot.
5. CBS : You went back to your high school last week because you were inducted into the school’s Hall of Fame. Now, when somebody asks you if you’re a Hall of Famer, you can say that you are. Sheppard: It’s such a great honor, especially when you know how many people that were around you that were better than you. You know? Sometimes I think to myself if it isn’t more a recognition of professional achievement as a coach in the NFL.
CBS : You said all three of your kids were there …
Sheppard : Actually, all four were there.
CBS : But that’s got to be a pretty cool to be recognized for something like that.
Sheppard : It’s a great honor. It’s almost embarrassing from the standpoint that really, deep down, you ask how many others are more deserving than you. But yeah, no one will ever appreciate that honor more than I.
Posted on: June 22, 2010 11:50 pm
Edited on: June 23, 2010 12:03 am
CINCINNATI – The Bengals on Tuesday released WR Chris Davis, and though the team had signed him to a free agent deal in March, the transaction was not surprising. Not surprising in the least.
Cincinnati’s receiving room, after all, is awfully crowded and awfully loaded with talent. Some deserving players will not make the 53-man roster, and after the final offseason workout of the year, Bengals receivers coach Mike Sheppard glowed with the anticipation of who he’ll work with when the season begins.
“They’ve been challenged,” Sheppard said. “It’s always fun to see how a group responds to a challenge.”
Without Davis around, 10 receivers will vie for what should be six spots when the team breaks camp for the regular season – it’s not impossible the Bengals would take seven receivers, but it’s highly unlikely. Of those 10, four are most likely locks – Chad Ochocinco, free agent signee Antonio Bryant, third-round draft pick Jordan Shipley (perhaps the most impressive player during last week’s mini-camp) and Andre Caldwell – who Sheppard pointed out was faster than anybody else at the position and who was invaluable at times last season.
Jones: He’s tall, and he seems to have good hands. Plus, he’s a former college QB, so when you want to pull out a trick play or two, he’d be a good candidate. But his feet have been slow, and he’s been out of the NFL for a year. He’s been solid, but not spectacular.
Cosby: His biggest strength – at least, last year – is his punt returning ability, as evidenced by his 11.9 yard return average and the fact he led the league in return yards (he also led the league, it should be noted, in punts returned). He began to have an impact in the passing game late in the season, but his height (5-foot-9) doesn’t help. Plus, he’ll have competition at punt return with Adam Jones and Shipley on the squad.
Simpson: The second-round pick from 2008 has been a big disappointment for the Bengals – he’s been active for only eight of his 32 career games while making one measly catch for two yards. Simpson, knowing he’ll have a tough time making the squad this year, had a fantastic offseason, but there are still questions about how well he knows the playbook.
Briscoe: Until he missed much of the offseason with a groin injury, the coaching staff was really high on the sixth-round pick. His former receiver coach at Kansas called him the best receiver he’d ever mentored, and his leaping ability is tops on the Bengals squad. He’s got some ridiculous highlights from college, but he’s missed out by being absent for so many practices.
Purify: We don’t know much about Purify, because he’s only played five games in his two NFL seasons (he’s spent most of his time on the Bengals practice squad). But he’s a special teams stalwart, and last season, he provided the highlight of training camp by dominating SS Roy Williams – quite a hard hitter himself – in the Oklahoma drill.
Brown: If we don’t know much about Purify, we know even less about Brown, except that the local scribes enjoy calling him Downtown Freddie Brown. I’d be shocked if Brown made the roster.
So, my prediction for who makes the squad? Well, it’s tough to say before training camp, but the Facts & Rumors blog aims to please. I’m thinking Briscoe and Cosby will make it. I could see Simpson making a run at a spot, but he’d have to have an outstanding camp to have a shot. I don't think he'll play well enough to manage it.
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