Bryant gives Bengals the vertical threat they lacked

While watching Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens team up would be must-see TV, the Bengals’ decision to add Antonio Bryant at receiver is about finding a better fit for their offensive scheme.

A polished route runner with deceptive speed and quickness, Bryant gives QB Carson Palmer a versatile playmaker to complement Ochocinco. While Bryant excels at working the underneath areas of coverage, his knack for getting behind the defense gives the Bengals another vertical threat to feature in the passing game.

When the late Chris Henry left the lineup last season after breaking his arm, the Bengals lost their ability to throw the ball down the field, and the lack of a vertical presence eventually allowed opponents to suffocate Ochocinco.

Ochocinco tallied only one 100-yard game during the final half of the season, and his declining production was a big part of Cincinnati’s offensive woes. However, Bryant’s addition should create more room for Ochocinco, as opponents are forced to spend more time in single coverage on the outside.

Two seasons ago, Bryant tallied 83 receptions for 1,248 yards and seven touchdowns with six 100-yard games, as he single-handedly carried a sagging Buccaneers aerial attack. More importantly, Bryant had 16 receptions of 20 yards or more, and he finished with four catches that covered over 40 yards.

Given Bryant’s unique ability to wreak havoc as a vertical threat or possession receiver, the Bengals have not only opened up the field for Ochocinco but given their passing game the bite that was missing last season.

— Bucky Brooks

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