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Houshmandzadeh leaves void in Cincy

3/2/2009

Posted by ESPN.com's James Walker

With the Seattle Seahawks agreeing to a five-year contract with former Cincinnati Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, the big question is: Who will take over the starting role "Housh" left behind?

The void will be large as Houshmandzadeh developed into the ideal possession receiver and a favorite target of quarterback Carson Palmer. Houshmandzadeh caught 204 passes the past two seasons.

Here is a look at his replacements:


Henry Chris Henry


Henry has flashed the ability to be a starting receiver in the NFL, but off-the- field troubles earned him the reputation of being unreliable. Since Cincinnati re-signed him last summer, he has stayed focused and is hoping for a big year in 2009.

If the Bengals do not add a receiver, it's possible Henry could enter training camp as the favorite because of his experience. He is the only proven commodity at the position besides teammate Chad Johnson.

Last season Henry had 19 catches for 220 yards and two touchdowns in 12 games.


Simpson Jerome Simpson


It's hard to get a good read on Simpson after one uneventful year. Some in Cincinnati are already labeling the 2008 second-round pick a bust, but that might be premature.

Cincinnati loved Simpson coming out of college, so much so that the Bengals passed up several decent receivers in the draft to take the former Coastal Carolina product.

The move didn't pan out as Simpson had just one catch for two yards in six games last season. But Houshmandzadeh's exit will present plenty of opportunities for Simpson to prove people wrong.


Caldwell Andre Caldwell


Caldwell earned more game experience last year than Simpson, but questions remain. The University of Florida alum played in seven games as a rookie, including four starts, and had 11 catches for 78 yards.

Caldwell's best game was the regular-season finale when he had a career-best five receptions. The Bengals hope that leads to momentum for Caldwell next season.

Overall, the Bengals were last in the NFL in points per game in 2008. Much of that had to do with Palmer's season-ending elbow injury. But one of these three receivers also must step up next season for Cincinnati's offense to be successful.