This year's Bengals rookie class had promise. The team should have been able to parlay the 2008 draft into some success, considering the number of picks the team had. But something happened on the way to the season, and a number of those picks are now behind in development, on Injured Reserve, or on the practice squad.
First-rounder Keith Rivers, out of USC, brought high expectations. Late to camp because of a holdout, Rivers showed talent and aptitude and got himself into game shape fairly quickly. Before his unfortunate meeting with Hines Ward in Week 7, Rivers had 37 tackles, 1 interception, and a forced fumble. He was, to that point, the brightest star among this year's picks. Hopefully, Rivers will be able to come back strong in 2009.
In three games so far this year, defensive tackle Pat Sims (Auburn) has 14 tackles and is showing some promise. Sims just needs more game time to continue developing. Cornerback Simeon Castille (Alabama) has seen four games and notched five tackles. At last check, Castille was assigned to the practice squad.
Wide receiver Andre Caldwell (Florida) has played one game, accumulating no stats so far. Caldwell now is working out a foot injury. Wide receiver Jerome Simpson (Coastal Carolina) has played four games, with one catch for two yards to his credit. Simpson is now working out an ankle injury. Hopefully, Caldwell and Simpson will get past their injuries and use the remaining eight games of this season to gain some valuable experience for next year's campaign.
As well, Caldwell and Simpson are two players fans have wondered about. Where have they been? Where do they fit in? The rest of the year is up in the air for them. Hopefully, they’ll get "back on their feet" and spend the rest of the season racking up stats. Some other players have been slow in coming along, or the team, for whatever reason, is holding them back. Among them, offensive tackle Anthony Collins (Kansas) is on the Bengals depth chart as a left tackle, but has yet to see game time. Many are wondering what the hold up is for Collins, as starting left tackle Levi Jones has been awful. Maybe Collins just needs to get further along the learning curve.
Other rookies on the IR: Justin Britt (Alabama), G/C; Kyle Cook (Michigan State), C; Corey Lynch (Appalachian State), and Matt Sherry (Villanova), TE.
With eight games left, the Bengals still have time to get some rookies on the field for more development, and their have been some first-year player signings, as well, to help the team out. But the injury bug has bitten this year's rookie class hard, so, unfortunately for several, particularly for Keith Rivers, development is set back.
Portions of this blog entry, in different form, were used in the Bengals Week 9 Member Mayhem entry.