In February, near the end of a long interview with Marvin Lewis during the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, I asked him how Armon Binns progressed last year as a member of the Bengals practice squad.
“I think Armon made great strides,” said Lewis. “Our offensive coaches at the end of the year wanted me to put him in the game. They wanted to not only dress him but, ‘Can we start him?’ There’s another player that we identified last year as a good prospect. We’re not afraid to play young players if the guy can do it.”
It didn’t take long for those words to get passed along to the former UC Bearcat.
“It felt good to know that the coaches had confidence in me – especially the head coach – and that the work that I was putting in at practice was paying off,” said Binns. “It makes me feel good to know that the coaches here believe in me and think that I can help this team win games.”
He’s about to get his chance to prove them right.
After losing Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell as free agents, the Bengals have an opening for a #2 wide receiver opposite A.J. Green. Binns will be one of several candidates battling for the spot, including recent third round draft pick Mohamed Sanu out of Rutgers, and fifth rounder Marvin Jones out of Cal.
“There’s an open spot out there and you just have to go out there and compete and go get a job,” Binns told me. “I’m very eager. I sat back for a year and got to learn and watch everybody. It was kind of like a redshirt year for me and I’m just ready to get back out there and play the game again.”
“I got to sit back and watch how the NFL game goes and how to be a pro. I watched how NFL corners are playing and how defenses are so much more advanced and sophisticated.”
Binns continued to study after the season, but the subject wasn’t just football. Armon, who majored in criminal justice at UC with a minor in sociology, returned to the classroom in the off-season and will go through graduation ceremonies on June 8th
“It’s huge,” said Binns with a grin. “I’ve been in Cincinnati for so long and to come away with a degree is going to mean the world to me and my mom. I was a student-athlete again so it’s all good.”
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