Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Arrest does no favors for little-used Charles
By Coley Harvey
CINCINNATI -- Orson Charles is not a Cincinnati Bengals superstar.
He isn't a starter, either. His position of H-back, while one Bengals coaches said they were committed to this offseason, is not the most important on the team.
They could easily move on without him.
It is for that reason the little-used player has to realize the timing of his Monday night arrest for wanton endangerment couldn't have been worse. If the facts of the incident alleging gun-waving and threatening road rage behavior by Charles are true, he has suddenly found himself to be more expendable than before.
No player's time on a roster is guaranteed. They are all expendable, particularly when situations arise in which the league's conduct policy could be used as the basis of a release or suspension. But when you're a player who is down on the depth chart, you don't want to give the front office any added reason reconsider your roster spot.
It should be emphasized that as of now there is no reason to believe such actions will be taken by the Bengals against Charles. As it typically does in instances involving arrests, the team is sticking to its policy of letting the legal process take its course before it comments or acts.
Still, the ice the tight-end-turned-H-back is standing on has worn thin. He already was having issues getting on the field. Now the Bengals might have good reason to refuse him access to it ever again.
Charles has been a respected member of the Bengals' locker room. Aside from a pre-draft DUI in Athens, Ga., in 2012, off-field trouble hadn't previously found him during his two-year NFL career. His behavior had mirrored that of his teammates.
And after several off-field incidents earned them a reputation last decade for having players who often ran afoul of the law, the Bengals have undergone a bad-boy purge the past three seasons.
It's because of that recent image-cleaning the Bengals could make Charles an example. It would be their opportunity to reassert how seriously they take off-field problems, and demonstrate the value they place on signing and retaining high-character players. The events of Charles' incident, as outlined by the incident report obtained Tuesday by ESPN.com, don't reflect those traits.
That Charles barely played on offense last season, appearing on just 62 snaps as an H-back, is another reason for the Bengals to cut him. He caught one pass last season, and it came in the regular-season finale.
This offseason, running backs coach Kyle Caskey said the Bengals were committed to keeping Charles as an H-back instead of considering a true blocking fullback. They switched Charles from tight end last preseason in a move that surprised many. Not only was he drafted as a tight end, but he starred at the position in college at Georgia, catching passes from quarterback Aaron Murray (a player the Bengals could target in May's draft).
At the time of Charles' switch, the Bengals were trying to teach him to be a run blocker out of the backfield, even though fourth-year fullback and fan favorite John Conner was on the roster. Conner's August release caught many off guard.
As offensive coordinator Hue Jackson attempts to implement more of a physical, run-based scheme, having additional backfield blockers like Charles could be beneficial. It could be of particular help when those blockers have the pass-catching experience Charles does, adding to the difficulty of preparing for the scheme.
That is all to say that Cincinnati has a few reasons to keep Charles, but his arrest did little to illuminate them. If he makes it through all of this, for his sake, you have to hope he's able to restore his formerly clean image.