Bengals' Shipley a victim of receiving depth

The third-year wide receiver from Texas began camp on the Active/PUP roster while trying to recover from the ACL/MCL injury he suffered in Week 2 last year.

Shipley was cleared to practice July 29, but most of his reps had been coming with the third team, and he had one catch for 4 yards in the first preseason game and none Thursday night in Atlanta.

“We all have a great amount of respect for him, and we wish nothing but the best,” offensive coordinator Jay Gruden said of Shipley. “But obviously with letting him go, we feel good about the guys we have in here.”

The emergence of Andrew Hawkins as the top slot receiver and the potential and versatility displayed by rookie Mohamed Sanu also were factors in the decision to waive Shipley.

“I hate to see him go, but I know the business,” said quarterback Andy Dalton, whose locker is next to the one Shipley had.

“It’s tough to lose a friend, but I know the talent we have here,” Dalton added. “The receiver position is probably the biggest completion going on at this camp.”

A third-round pick in 2010, Shipley led AFC rookies with 600 receiving yards to become the first Bengal to do that since Darnay Scott in 1984. Shipley’s 52 catches that season also tied for the AFC rookie reception lead with teammate Jermaine Gresham, the first time a Cincinnati player had accomplished that feat since Carl Pickens in 1992.

Shipley had four catches for 14 yards last year before the season-ending injury.

“He did everything in his power to get right and is still getting right,” Gruden said. “I think he’s very close. He still has a little bit of a lingering effect in his mind, but I think that will be eliminated shortly.

“Hopefully he has time to latch on somewhere else,” Gruden added. “I think that’s the big thing, try to get him somewhere where he can latch on, somewhere where he can learn a system before the opening game. I think it’s the right way to go. He’s been nothing but a true professional since I’ve known him.”

While Shipley’s release would seem to be a vote of confidence for Hawkins, the second-year undrafted free agent from Toledo said he isn’t looking at it that way.

“It’s still training camp,” said Hawkins, who also has been impressive on special teams, adding to his value. “I just have to keep working and on the final day hope I have a roster spot. Jordan is a good friend of mine. It’s super unfortunate. It’s tough, especially the type of guy Jordan is and what he meant to this locker room.”

Teams have until 4 p.m. today to claim Shipley off waivers. After that he will be released to free agency.

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