CINCINNATI -- With organized team activities (OTAs) in full swing for the Cincinnati Bengals, we'll be spending the next couple weeks taking a position-by-position look at where their offseason roster currently stands.
We started at quarterback Monday, wondering if Andy Dalton really could be pushed by his three backups. Then we looked at running back Tuesday, where we explored the feasibility of using a true fullback this year. On Wednesday, we questioned whether or not Marvin Jones and Mario Alford could be difference-makers at receiver.
Let's continue now at tight end, where we ask: Will the Bengals have enough time to build depth under Tyler Eifert?
Expected TE rotation: As mentioned above, the Bengals' tight end rotation begins with Eifert, the third-year player who will be looking to get through the first injury-free season of his career. He played just eight snaps in 2014 after dislocating his right elbow near the end of the first quarter of the season opener. Several weeks later, with his rehab from the injury going slowly, the Bengals placed him on injured reserve so he could fix a shoulder problem that dated back to last spring. He entered this spring's OTAs fully healthy.
The Bengals don't fully know what to expect from Eifert, but they will look to him as their veteran in the tight end meeting room. Veteran players Jermaine Gresham, Kevin Brock and Alex Smith were either released or weren't re-signed during free agency this year. Kroft and Uzomah were drafted just a month ago, but they are most likely to be the No. 2 and No. 3 tight ends behind Eifert. Murphy was on the practice squad last season, and he'll be battling with undrafted free agents Lengel and Peters for possibly a fifth tight end spot on the 53-man roster.
As for Hewitt, the second-year H-back is slated to get snaps once again as a psuedo-fullback blocking out of the backfield, and catching occasional passes. He and Eifert could be on the field regularly together.
TEs' offseason goals: Reps, reps, reps. This offseason is all about opportunity for the Bengals' tight ends.
While Eifert won't be getting many full-team reps in 11-on-11s until training camp, the others should be. Kroft and Uzomah, in particular, would be best served to take advantage of whatever chances they receive these next few months. Both are trying to prove they can fit in the offense, and that they can both catch and block at the NFL level. Reps could be what get Uzomah on the field. He didn't play a true tight end role in college; instead he was used as more of a complementary blocker and occasional pass-catcher in Auburn's fast-paced spread offense. Those same reps could make Lengel and Peters better as they attempt to prove they belong on the roster.
Is three months enough time to build the depth behind Eifert? It should be. Sure, hiccups and growing pains are bound to pop up, but the Bengals do have the time to get the depth behind Eifert situated. Kroft has a good foundation as both a receiver and blocker, and Uzomah already has started impressing coaches with his knack of running routes and catching passes. All he has to do is keep that going.