ProFootballweekly.com reports that Bengals WR Jerome Simpson is looking for bigger and better in 2009:
Bengals WR Jerome Simpson calls his rookie season, which saw him catch only one pass, a “learning year.” In an effort to improve, he has worked out in Los Angeles with teammates Andre Caldwell, also a second-year wideout, and Antonio Chatman, as well as Charles Collins, a coach who worked with the Bengals’ receivers in 2008. Ex-Bengals WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh also has joined Simpson and Caldwell at times, as has Bengals reserve QB Jordan Palmer.
Even Carson Palmer has made an appearance, throwing to the receivers for around an hour on March 17. “He looked very good,” Simpson said, noting that Palmer, who missed 12 games with a right elbow injury in 2008, was accurate and “putting some heat” on his passes.
Simpson may not be one of Palmer’s primary targets next season with Chad Ocho Cinco and Laveranues Coles slated to start, but he is working to become a bigger part of the offense. Simpson told PFW he has become “more of a technician in my routes,” especially as it comes to getting out of his breaks more quickly.
Playing time was scarce for Simpson as a rookie. He was active for only eight games, played in only six and made just one start, but that was somewhat to be expected considering the presence of Houshmandzadeh and Ocho Cinco. Simpson also missed three games with an ankle injury, but the injury is no longer an issue, he said.
How he will fit into the Bengals’ offense remains to be seen. Caldwell, with whom Simpson has developed a friendship, received extended playing time down the stretch of his first season and also returned 13 kickoffs. He may have the edge to be the Bengals’ No. 3 receiver entering the season. Simpson, who earned a reputation as a vertical threat at Coastal Carolina, might be able to find a niche stretching the field as an outside receiver, especially with Palmer returning to the lineup.
For now, Simpson is focused on getting better. He relished learning from Ocho Cinco as well as the departed Houshmandzadeh, who signed with the Seahawks.
“I learned a lot from T.J.,” Simpson said. “I learned a lot of patience, being detailed with your routes. I said I’m going to get with him in the offseason in the seasons to come. He’s a great leader. He’s always on time. He stays late.”
Simpson’s offseason work has started early, and he believes he already is seeing results.
“When you don’t really know the system, you kind of second-guess yourself,” he said. “I’m getting confidence in my game now.”
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