CINCINNATI – When the Cincinnati Bengals released their 53-man roster over the weekend it was no surprise that Alex Erickson’s name was on it. The Darlington native and University of Wisconsin-Madison wide receiver/kick returner did everything asked of him since signing a rookie free agent contract with the team this spring to earn that spot.
Erickson, the undisputed star of the Bengals’ pre-season, received a call from head coach Marvin Lewis on Saturday informing him that he had indeed made the team. That seemed to be a foregone conclusion earlier in the week when the Bengals released the team’s all-time leading punt returner, Brandon Tate, but it was still a relief to hear it from the coach’s mouth.
And, to receive the call from Coach Lewis with his family in town for the Labor Day weekend, made it even more special for the 2011 DHS graduate, who wasn’t even invited to the NFL combine or selected in the NFL draft this spring.
Erickson also holds the distinction of being the only rookie free agent to make the Bengals’ roster.
The former Redbird and Badger has had quite a pre-season for the Bengals, finishing second on the team in receptions (seven), third in receiving yards (77) and first in punt returns (six), punt return average (30.8 ypr.), scoring (18 points) and touchdowns (three).
He caught two touchdown passes and returned a punt 80 yards for a score in the Bengals’ four pre-season games, and he also returned one kickoff for 31 yards and tallied two rushes for 11 yards.
Now the real work begins for Erickson as he has to hold onto his spot in the highly-competitive world of professional sports.
As one of the team’s top return specialists, Erickson should be active for the Bengals during their 2016 NFL opener season against the New York Jets on Sunday, Sept. 11, at 12 noon CDT.
The Bengals’ home opener will be on Sunday, Sept. 25, when they host the Denver Broncos.