Pro Speak 8/22: Receivers Making Strides

Three pass catchers at various stages of their careers headline the achievements of former Buckeyes in the NFL this week: David Boston, Michael Jenkins and Santonio Holmes.

Wide receivers grabbed the most headlines among former Buckeyes in the second week of the NFL preseason, in particular Santonio Holmes, David Boston and Michael Jenkins. All three earned a spot in the starting lineup for his respective squad, with Boston's status having to count as the biggest surprise...

When Boston caught a touchdown pass, he not only bettered his chances of making the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he may have taken a step toward becoming a starter opposite fellow OSU alumnus Joey Galloway.

As Boston's fairy tale return to football continues after his career appeared dead, Buccs head coach Jon Gruden told the Associated Press this week Boston is at times their best receiver.

"The son of a gun is 235 pounds, and when he catches that ball going north and south, he's going to be a force to be reckoned with," the coach said. "He's doing a heck of a job."

Meanwhile, the man who supplanted Boston as Ohio State's all-time leading receiver is hoping to get his stalled career going as well.

That would be Michael Jenkins, whom despite being a first round draft pick of the Atlanta Falcons in 2004 has yet to live up to expectations.

Never developing a rapport with Falcons quarterback Mike Vick, Jenkins has managed 82 receptions for 1063 yards despite playing in all but two of a possible 48 games since he entered the league. He has snagged 10 touchdown passes, including seven last season.

With Vick out of the league for likely quite a while and offensive guru Bobby Petrino taking over as head coach, the maligned Falcons receiving corps gets something of a second chance this season.

While that has not been reflected on the stat sheet – Jenkins has caught just two passes for a total of 16 yards in two preseason games – he has caught the eye of new Falcons quarterback Joey Harrington.

"Michael Jenkins is working his tail off," Harrington – who knows something about being an underachieving first-round draft pick himself – told Jenkins' hometown newspaper, the Tampa Tribune earlier this week. "I sense he's starting to grasp this offense very well. This kid has worked so hard. I can't wait to get out on the field with him during the regular season.

"This kid's a huge target, which is extremely valuable in the red zone and over the middle," Harrington said. "I find Michael open to criticism and open to coaching. He really has a great desire to excel."

Jenkins told the paper camp has had a positive vibe for him.

"Joey throws a real good ball and receivers love the new passing scheme," Jenkins said. It's wide open, it's down the field. … It's all about getting mismatches and putting the ball in our hands."

Holmes, like Jenkins, did not start his team's preseason opener. Both were in there to begin game two, however, and Holmes told reporters afterward he is hopeful that is a sign of things to come in what many league observers think will be a breakout year for the second-year man.

Not surprisingly, Holmes does not expect to let any of the prognosticators down.

"That's my goal," he said. "You want to be special. You want to be different from everybody else in this league. You want to be a guy that can make plays, who has the confidence of his teammates and they know, ‘OK, if we throw the ball to 10, he's going to make a play.' "

The former Buckeye caught two passes for 51 yards in a week two win over Washington. Both receptions went for first downs, including the second, which gained 29 yards on a third-and-17 that kept alive the Steelers' first scoring drive of the game.

"I've still got a lot of work to do," he said. "If the coaches go with me for the rest of the season, I'm going to keep progressing like I have been and if they decide to go with Ced (Wilson), I'm just going to keep working."...

In other news around the league, Josh Huston perhaps gained a leg up in his competition to win the New York Giants' No. 1 kicking job.

He booted a pair of field goals, one from 50 yards, as New York beat the Baltimore Ravens Sunday night.

They were the first two of his career and gave him two more than his competitor, veteran Lawrence Tynes, has made this season.

Tynes' not having attempted a field goal is not intentional, however. His designated half to play has yet to coincide with the need to try a three-pointer.

The veteran, who was acquired in an offseason trade with the Kansas City Chiefs, told the Giants' site on the network he sees NFL quality in both he and his competitor.

"I think both of us will be playing this year," Tynes said. "I've been around some guys that I know that Josh is better than. And I think Josh knows that. He's a confident kid. He'll play. We'll both play. It'll all work out."

After the game against the Ravens, head coach Tom Coughlin told reporters Huston, "certainly helped himself."

A touchback machine in his college days, Huston has held the advantage in kickoffs through two preseason games.

Though neither kicker has registered a touchback yet, Huston has averaged 68.0 yards on his six kickoffs while Tynes has booted his pair of kickoffs an average of 64.5 yards…

In that same nationally televised game between the Giants and Ravens, Baltimore quarterback Troy Smith made amends for a poor preseason debut by completing 4 of 8 passes for 60 yards.

Though he was sacked on his first play, Smith also looked quick when forced to scramble.

He led drives that led to Raven field goals and drew praise from his head coach, Brian Billick

"Yeah, you saw some of the things that Troy can do very, very well," Billick told reporters afterwards. "There are a couple of things obviously that you've got to be better at with his athleticism. But he did a couple of good things."…

Checking injuries, two of the former Buckeyes to miss games in week one of the preseason returned to playing field in week two.

Safety Donte Whitner started and made five tackles – all on the opening drive – for the Buffalo Bills, while linebacker Na'ill Diggs started and made one tackle for the Carolina Panthers.

Diggs, who is in danger of losing his starting spot to rookie Jon Beason, missed practice early this week, however.

Cincinnati Bengals fullback Stan White Jr. has yet to play in a preseason game but reportedly returned to practice Tuesday…

Finally, Seattle guard Rob Sims – who gained 16 yards and a first down after catching a deflected pass in the Seahawks' opener – was shutout in week two, seeing his bid to start a two-game receptions streak come to an end.

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