Hobson's Choice: Wide range of options

Hey Geoff, I was reading a rumor on CBSsportsline and it said that TJ and Chad are the two starting reciever and that Washington and Warrick will have to battle for playing time. With that being said, I was wondering where does Chris Henry and Tab Perry fit in? Who has the edge as our 3rd receiver?

And how are all the rookies coming along through mini camps, any problems or possible injuries. At last, how is Chris Perry doing with his injury, will he be back at full strength?
** Josh, Dayton

JOSH:**
It's no rumor. T.J. became the starter back in March when they dropped about $5 million on him for 2005.The real question is how ready is third-rounder Chris Henry to line up opposite Chad on the outside when they put T.J. in the slot when they go three wide receivers? And the Warrick question simply can't begin to be answered until Aug. 1.

When the Bengals ran the No. 1 group out there in June, it sure looked like the three wides of Chad, Henry, and T.J. were getting the bulk of the work. You've got to have T.J. in the slot and camp is going to decide who is going to be running with those guys on the outside. And Henry certainly looked impressive as a 6-4 leaper with superb hands who showed a knack for going up and making a play.

Kelley Washington has had the eyeballs rolling for two years (he did it again at the Open House two weeks ago when he whipped out his First Down dance after a 20-yard catch in SPRING PRACTICE) and nobody is exactly infatuated with it. But the coaches also praised him for his work and effort this spring, so don't just write him off and write Henry's name in pen.

Don't ask a rookie receiver to put up veteran numbers. It just doesn't happen. Only six wide receivers in Bengals history have caught more than 30 balls their first season and none were Carl Pickens, T.J. Houshmandzadeh, or Chad I Johnson. Since 2000, only 25 of the 63 wide receivers taken on the first day of the draft have had more than 30 catches as rookies. Only 17 of them caught at least 500 yards.

Make no mistake. Henry is going to play a lot. But if you're looking for numbers and experience, you may have to stop at Washington.

Warrick? A, he's got to be healthy and B, Washington might have a tiny bit of an edge on him because the Bengals are more comfortable putting Warrick in the slot rather than on the outside. Washington plays pretty much only on the outside. Still, if Warrick is healthy, I have to believe he'll make it.

The interesting thing there is do they make Warrick the No. 1 slot receiver and shelve Henry with Houshmandzadeh on the outside? They almost have to do that with Warrick because how can you pay your back-up slot guy $2.2 million?

And don't ask if Warrick is healthy. No one knows and if they tell you they do, they're kidding themselves. He's expected to be out there for the first practice July 29. That's not the problem. What we don't know is if he'll be out there July 30. If the same thing happens at this year's camp that happened in Georgetown last year, where he couldn't practice a couple of days in a row, they've got their answer. But if he can go three or four straight days without the knee blowing up like a TV blimp, he's good to go.

You get the sense Tab Perry is going to be an excellent pro. He's got great size, and he runs nice routes with sure hands. He might not play a lot this year from scrimmage, but he'll be a special teams staple starting with kick returns. That makes you worry a little bit about wide receiver Kevin Walter because he's been a special teams standout and can they afford to keep two similar guys like that at receiver? Then again, if they both produce, you keep them both, and Walter has been quite competent from scrimmage the little he's been used there. Walter is going to be a difficult guy not to make one of the six wide receivers.

Sorry, but the answer with Chris Perry has to be like the Warrick brain teaser. A few weeks ago, Perry said he was running at 60 percent and didn't know if he'll be ready for July 29. His problem last year was that he could go about 90 percent, but then when he would burst, the abdominal muscle would tear or get re-tweaked. Like a knife in his pelvis, he said. The problem is he hasn't bursted 100 percent since October. Even if he's healthy, it may take him some time to get back in the swing. It's another case of let's see him burst on July 29, 30 and 31 and see how he feels Aug. 1

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