Rookie WR Jordan Shipley has made an immediate impact on the Bengals' offense in the preseason and has looked like he could be a reliable target for QB Carson Palmer in the regular season.
Shipley, who has eight catches in his first three games, has produced as he tries to get comfortable in a new offense. Learning the Bengals' playbook, bigger than the one he studied at Texas, is a challenge, as are learning the various adjustments he has to make when he sees particular defensive alignments.
"I think the toughest thing is trying to learn all of the protections and learn all of the blitz reads, since guys in the NFL do such a good job of disguising what they're doing," Shipley recently told PFW.
As Shipley faces the challenge of mastering the Bengals' offense, opposing defenses face the challenge of stopping a receiver who consistently showed he could get open at Texas and is off to a good start doing the same in the pros. Shipley, whose biggest impact could come in working the middle of the field as a slot receiver, has been targeted 11 times in the preseason. Of particular note is his success connecting with Palmer. The 6-foot, 190-pound Shipley has caught four of the five passes Palmer his thrown his way. Three came on the same scoring drive against Denver, highlighted by Shipley snagging catches of nine and 13 yards on consecutive plays.
"He's done a great job of teaching me and helping me along," Shipley said of Palmer.
Shipley, 24, overcame knee, hamstring and shoulder injuries to become a receiving star in his final two seasons at Texas, snagging 89 passes as a junior and 116 as a senior, when he was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which honors college football's top receiver. Of the injuries, Shipley said, "You learn not to take any plays for granted."
Shipley, a third-round pick, is also contending to return punts for the Bengals. He had a 63-yard punt return vs. Dallas in the Hall of Fame game and added a 21-yard punt return the following week vs. Denver.
As Shipley adjusts to the professional game — his goal, he said, is to "know enough to play football and not think as much" — he nonetheless has given the Bengals plenty of reasons to be excited.
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