Catching up with ... Armon Binns

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For UC football fans, this image will be engrained into their memory forever. Tony Pike to Armon Binns. Undefeated regular season.

I broached the play last week as we discussed Tony Pike's opportunity for a tryout at Bengals rookie mini-camp. The receiver on the other end of the most famous pass in UC history owns a grandiose opportunity of his own at Paul Brown Stadium.

After being picked up as an undrafted free agent cast-off by the Jaguars at the end of last preseason, Binns spent the majority of the year on the practice squad. He was promoted off the PS when WR Andre Caldwell went on IR late in the year.

Rumors circulated in the weeks following the season that coaches were pushing for Binns to play an active role in the final week of the season and playoff game against Houston. He'd been that good in practice. He was inactive for both, but the mere thought of tossing a practice squad player in the fire for the season's biggest moments illustrated the progress he'd made in just one season.

While off the radar to the general public for a year, he's about to return to the forefront entering his second year in the league. The battle for playing time behind A.J. Green is more wide open than Binns was against Pitt. And he feels primed to seize the moment.

Binns has been able to go to school and attend offseason Bengals workouts since they're in the same city. He's wrapping his degree and plans to walk in June as a proud grad of UC. Here are thoughts from Binns on his progress entering what he hopes to be a monumental year.

PDJ: How far did your game come last year, stuff that nobody saw except in this locker room, just grinding on the practice field?

Armon Binns: I feel like I made some huge strides in my knowledge of the game and my route-running ability. Just body control and everything. Just learning how to be a pro from some guys who have been in the league such a long time.

PDJ: How much was the mental technique and learning things more refined than you even thought they could be?

AB: The mental aspect of the game was what I walked away with, just learning what defenses see. Talking to Pacman (Jones) and Nate (Clements) about what they see when I am coming off the line and how I am triggering my breaks. Learning the whole idea of defenses and coverages and everything.

PDJ: What did they see when you first came here?

binns_armon_Mug.jpgAB: Just playing high at times. Keying your breaks with your eyes and arms and things. Just little, subtle things that you don't really notice as a college player, because the game moves so fast.

PDJ: Always had ability to go up and get it, was that what you figured you needed to improve on coming into the league, the route-running techniques?

AB: Definitely, that's the thing a lot of scouts and stuff thought I couldn't do. So, that's the thing I wanted to work the hardest at and become more consistent at.

PDJ: This feel like a refreshing feeling here with the wide open battle. Whoever plays best between now and Baltimore will be the No. 2 WR?

I think it's the best position I could have been in. I told someone last year was kind of like a redshirt year for me. I kind of got to sit back, learn a lot, but at the same time be in here with professionals playing the game. Now I come into a wide open situation where I just got to perform and be the best me I can be and hopefully everything will work out.

PDJ: You can be a great practice player, but you thrived when the lights came on Saturdays, how different is it going through the grind when the light at the end of the tunnel was so far off?

It was hard, man, but I just paced myself and kept faith in the Lord and kept grinding. One of the older guys told me just control what you put on film, so that's what I did, tried to work hard and control what I put on film every day.

PDJ: How do you view this competition at WR with Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, Ryan Whalen, Vidal Hazelton, Andrew Hawkins, Brandon Tate and yourself battling?

AB: The NFL is all about competition. All I can do is control what Armon Binns does. Be the best me I can be and be consistent in what I do on the field, make plays and put confidence in the coaches mind that I can do it.

PDJ: Watching the draft pretty closely with wide receiver looked at as a need position?

Sat there and watched the whole draft. When I watched the first and second round go by it make me feel a whole lot better just knowing its wide open. So go out there and get it.

I feel like we got whole lot of talent in our group. Talent that people don't know, especially young guys like me and Ryan (Whalen) and (Andrew Hawkins) didn't get to play that much last year but we got some good players that can go out there and make plays for this team.

PDJ: Talk to any of the four UC undrafted guys to give advice?

Talked to DJ, talked to Zach. Lot of it is just your mentality and going out there with that chip on your shoulder and wanting to show you were just as good as the other 200-some guys that got drafted. Just go out there and prove it everyday.

PDJ: How did this draft reflect the rise of UC's program since you arrived?

It's like night and day. Guys are getting drafted, signing free agent deals. You saw (two) UC players come off the board before one Ohio State player, that just shows how far the program has come.

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