Shipley on mend, but Bengals still need receivers

By JOE KAY - AP Sports Writer
    2012-04-17 02:50

CINCINNATI (AP) - Jordan Shipley got together with quarterback Andy Dalton last week in Texas and ran a few pass routes, an encouraging developing for the Cincinnati Bengals offense.

Their slot receiver is recovering nicely from knee surgery that wiped out most of his 2011 season. He was still limited as the Bengals started their voluntary offseason workouts on Monday at Paul Brown Stadium, but expected to be fully recovered by training camp.

``Some days I feel really good,'' Shipley said. ``Some days I feel close. At this point in the process, it's how you feel that day. I want to go out and do everything, and they tell me you have to wait, heal up. As of today, I'm still in the rehab process.''

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Shipley's uneventful recovery is an important offseason development for the Bengals, whose next big challenge is finding more receivers to complement him and A.J. Green.

The Bengals went to the playoffs as a wild card last season with Dalton and Green emerging as rookies. One offseason priority is to expand a group of receivers that isn't even big enough to fill a depth chart. Jerome Simpson is an unrestricted free agent serving a jail sentence - his locker was empty on Monday except for a wooden stool and a dozen plastic hangers. The nameplate was gone.

Andre Caldwell signed with Denver last month, leaving Cincinnati without two of its top three receivers from 2011. Simpson was second on the team in catches by a receiver with 50, while Caldwell was third with 37.

The Bengals have extra draft picks next week, including two in the first round, which gives them a chance to fill a lot of their holes. They also could use an offensive guard and a cornerback. Somehow, they need a No. 2 receiver to take the coverage away from Green.

``I feel like we've got guys here that last year were pushing for playing time,'' Dalton said. ``Obviously, if we can get another weapon, that would be great. I'm all for it. But we'll see what happens. The draft's crazy. Everybody knows that.''

The Bengals used last year's draft as a turning point. They took Green in the first round and Dalton in the second, giving themselves a pair of playmakers who made the playoffs and the Pro Bowl in their rookie seasons. They didn't have enough to get a long-awaited breakthrough - the franchise's first playoff win since 1990.

The Bengals lost to Houston 31-10 in the playoffs, leaving them 0-3 in the postseason during coach Marvin Lewis' nine years in Cincinnati.

They've tweaked the offense slightly in the offseason. Cincinnati allowed running back Cedric Benson to leave as a free agent, replacing him with BenJarvus Green-Ellis. They also allowed Caldwell and Simpson to become unrestricted free agents. Caldwell is gone. The Bengals haven't ruled out signing Simpson, who is serving a 15-day jail sentence in northern Kentucky on a drug-related charge. Simpson also faces a four-game suspension from the NFL for violating its substance abuse policy.

Getting Shipley back will be a big step. He quickly developed into a dependable slot receiver as a rookie in 2010, catching 52 passes and three touchdowns. He tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee during the second game last season.

Shipley met with Dalton - another Texan - for light workouts a few days last week to see how his knee responded. He ran pass patterns and didn't have a problem.

``It felt real good,'' Shipley said. ``I went back-to-back days, which was big for me.''

Notes: The Bengals agreed to new contracts with long snapper Clark Harris - a restricted free agent - and safety Jeromy Miles, who led their special teams in tackles last season. ... Dalton worked on his long passing over the winter, trying to get more loft on his throws. Dalton frequently missed on long passes last season.