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Bengals receiver Caldwell ready to fight for job

By Carlos "Big C" Holmes
Cox News Service/Dayton Daily News

The Cincinnati Bengals entered the offseason looking to find replacements for receivers T.J. Houshmandzadeh and the late Chris Henry. The team would like to think it has addressed those needs after drafting Texas All-American Jordan Shipley and Dezmon Briscoe. Only time will tell.

Shipley is being counted upon to contribute right away. He’s expected to challenge third-year receiver Andre Caldwell for the No. 3 position.

Caldwell is open to the competition but is not ready to relinquish his duties without a fight. If he goes down, he’s going down swinging.

“Competing is going to make everybody better,” Caldwell said in a recent interview. “I’m trying to make a name for myself this season by putting up big numbers. I want this to be a breakout season for me and be a key figure in the offense. So I’m up for the challenge.”

The receiver dedicated the offseason to improving his game by becoming more explosive. Caldwell stole a page from teammate Chad Ochocinco’s book of workout regimens and trained as a boxer.

“Boxing got me in the best shape of my life,” he said. “I believe it will help me become more of an impact player this season. I had to take myself away from football and watch film. I watched a lot of film to find my strengths and weaknesses in order to improve.”

The training appears to be paying off.

Caldwell looked a lot quicker running routes during the team’s recent minicamp. He was in and out of his breaks quickly and displayed good straight-line speed to get deep. Caldwell showed some toughness over the middle making difficult catches in traffic. He also did a nice job running after the catch.

“I feel like I’ve grown in the offense every year just by learning from the veterans,” Caldwell said. “Those guys have helped me step my game up. Now the coaches have to trust in me to make plays and get me the ball.”

Consistency, or lack thereof, has been the receiver’s problem. During the season Caldwell had some critical turnovers and key dropped passes. He finished with 51 receptions for 432 yards and three touchdowns.

One of the team’s goals this season is to have its passing game in the top 10. Therefore more will be expected of Caldwell providing he can hang on to his current roster spot. The receiver knows what it will take to get the job done.

“I have to increase my productivity and prove to the coaches my worth,” Caldwell said. “The bar is set high for us this season. That’s the difference from when I first arrived in Cincinnati. We’re not going to be satisfied unless we get to the Super Bowl and win it. Anything other than that is a failure for us. I’m ready to do my part.”

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