Ex- Bearcat Armon Binns gets chance
as Bengals' receiver
|Latest ESPN Magazine features Armon Binns as 1 of 5 sleeper WR's this season|
When discussing who will start opposite A.J. Green at receiver for the Bengals, Armon Binns has been in the conversation since last season ended.
During the first two days of practices, Binns has gotten a chance to show some of the things that had coaches ready late last season to put him in games.
Binns took most of the snaps with the first unit on Saturday as receivers coach James Urban is mixing and matching different combinations in what will be a fight for who will start and make the final roster.
In the early days of camp, Binns and Brandon Tate are still the favorites at the position. When asked who has the edge, Urban said: “At this point until it settles out a little bit, I’m preparing for both of them to be the starter.”
Binns says he considers Tate a close friend on the team and that Tate helped him along last year when Binns was on the practice squad. When asked, though, if he thought it would create a weird dynamic because they were vying for the same spot, Binns didn’t look at it that way.
“I think of it as we are both just out there trying to play. We know we both are going to get opportunities so whoever is in there we just have to make plays,” he said.
The former UC standout, who led the Big East in receptions (75) and yards (1,101) as a senior in 2010, had some former teammates in the stands on Friday. They know what type of player Binns is, but he is an unknown quantity to most everyone else.
Binns was signed by Jacksonville after the lockout ended last year and played in three preseason games with a touchdown. He was released, though, in the final round of cuts and was signed to the Bengals practice squad a couple weeks later after Jordan Shipley was placed on injured reserve and Andrew Hawkins was elevated to the 53-man roster.
After Andre Caldwell was placed on injured reserve, Binns was signed to the active roster for the final two games – the regular-season finale against Baltimore and playoff game in Houston. Binns though was a gameday inactive for both.
To show the changes at receiver, Shipley is the only one on the roster who was here at the end of the 2010 season. Of the 12 on the roster, Shipley and Tate are the only ones with three seasons or more of NFL experience (Hawkins is in his fourth year of pro football after two years in Canada).
During the offseason workouts and early camp practices, Binns has displayed improved route running and athleticism. Urban said that Binns’ best quality is being an instinctive player but has made big strides since last year due to the gains in running routes.
Binns got plenty of work after practices last year with Zac Robinson but got even better with the offense because he could participate in last May’s rookie minicamp. Binns is still classified as a first-year player because he was not on the 53-man roster for the required minimum of six games.
“He could feel the hole and get open. Now he knows how to run the route and take advantage of his instincts,” Urban said. “It’s hard to teach those great instincts. Now the key is just keep fine tuning the route running.”
With 10 practices before the Aug. 10 preseason opener against the Jets, Binns knows he will get plenty of opportunities. He has confidence in knowing that he has earned the trust of the coaching staff, but consistency remains the next goal.
Said Binns: “The thing I try to focus on the most is being the same me every day and making improvements when I get a coaching point and when I don't do something right avoid making the same mistakes.”
There will also be the preseason games. For as much as Binns has showed in practice – including a leaping catch on Friday (albeit a good 5 yards out of bounds) – he realizes he hasn’t played in a game in nearly a year.
Binns said he will be excited to get in the games, but there is still work to do until then.
"As a athlete and competitor I always want to get out there and make something happen," he said. "But all I can do is control what I can control and when my play and my number is called just go out there and make the play and let the rest take care of itself."