What does it mean for Brandon Tate with James Wright lost for the season?
The Bengals are dealing with their first adversity of the 2015 season after they announced Tuesday they had waived injured wide receiver James Wright and have lost him for the rest of the season.
Wright, who had been penciled in as the No. 4 wide receiver and key special teams contributor, would revert to the Bengals' injured reserve list if he clears waivers. Indications are Wright is facing season-ending knee surgery in the wake of tearing his PCL late last season.
It's believed the Bengals plan to take a look at a group of free-agent veteran wide receivers before training camp begins Friday as they hunt for depth behind the top three of A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, and Mohamed Sanu.
The Bengals' other injury moves Tuesday were hardly as surprising. As expected, Pro Bowl WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict starts camp on the active/physically unable to perform list as he recovers from micro fracture knee surgery, meaning he can come off at any point and start practicing once he passes a physical. Earlier Tuesday head coach Marvin Lewis and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther offered no timetable on his return.
Also, right end Margus Hunt, recovering from a back injury, and linebacker Sean Porter, recovering from a torn ACL, were also put on active PUP.
And, as expected, first-round pick Cedric Ogbuehi, starts his career on the active/non-football injury list. Ogbuehi tore his ACL in his last game for Texas A&M in late December and the sense is he'll start the regular season on PUP, where he won't practice for the first six weeks.
Wright, a seventh-round pick in 2014, emerged as the club's No. 3 receiver with his best game of the year in the 14-13 win in Tampa on Nov. 30. Wright had three catches for 59 yards, two of them converting huge third downs. The first one, a 12-yarder, set up the winning touchdown. The second one came with just under four minutes left on third-and-11 and the Bengals clinging to the lead. Wright's circus catch on the sideline for 30 yards bought them another series.
But at some point in that game his season ended when he tore his PCL and apparently it didn't bounce back. It leaves the Bengals a bit thin at wide receiver.
Seventh-rounder Mario Alford figured to make the club, but not be active as the sixth receiver until he got more experience. Brandon Tate, a seven-year vet, has the most experience as a receiver, but he's seen mainly as a punt and kick returner. He had 17 catches for an 11.4 yard average last season when he had to play because of injuries to Jones and Green.
The Bengals signed former Raider Denarius Moore in the offseason and while he has good numbers (a 15.3 yard per for his 142 catches in 51 games), they were hoping to see more from him in the spring. Cobi Hamilton, a sixth-rounder in 2013, was waived before last season after he struggled catching the ball. He played his first NFL game in last year's Wild Card Game in Indy and had no catches on two targets in 28 snaps.