To this point, we have simply assumed that Jordan Shipley will be the starting slot receiver when the season begins. As the second most experienced receiver on the roster, it is a natural assumption. But I am beginning to wonder…
Let me make this caveat now: I am not making the case that Shipley should not be the starter in the slot. Clearly his experience and productivity at the spot (600 yds receiving in his rookie year) gives him the advantage. But he is going up against another talented slot guy in Sanu. And perhaps just assuming the battle is over before it begins is premature.
I won’t label Shipley as injury-prone, but his bad luck has to be noted. He missed 1 game in 2010 after suffering a concussion in Cleveland. And unfortunately his knee was blown out in the second game of the season last year. Hopefully that is the last injury he suffers in his career, and I don’t want to make more out of the injuries than is justified, but they have to be considered.
We also should not underestimate Sanu’s abilities. He is noted for finding the weak spots in the zone, physical blocking, soft hands and a nice catch radius. Check this snippet from a scouting report on him:
If paired with a quality No. 1 WR who commands double teams, Sanu is near impossible to cover in single man coverage. He’s just too physical and uses his body really well to shield defenders. Let him work the short and intermediate game in single man and he’ll be a handful.
I just shivered.
Again, I’m not giving the starting spot to Sanu. But I’m not so sure I’m giving it to Shipley by default either. This will be one more interesting camp battle to watch.