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Former Pitt receiver Tyler Boyd will battle for playing time in 2017

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Last year, former Pitt wide receiver Tyler Boyd enjoyed a solid rookie campaign with the Cincinnati Bengals. With 54 catches for 603 yards, he was impressive as a late second-round NFL Draft pick.

But despite that strong first year, a cursory glance at the Bengals' roster shows he'll have to work hard to keep his spot.

First, there's A.J. Green, who is not only the undisputed top guy (no, not those top guys) but one of the best wideouts in the league. After that, the team re-signed their other starter, Brandon LaFell, to a two-year contract. That alone could be enough to keep Boyd where he's at as the team's third option.

But then the Bengals also added John Ross with the No. 9 overall pick in the draft this year.

Ross ran a Combine-record 4.22 40-yard dash and had 81 catches for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2016 with Washington in his last collegiate season. When you take a guy that high, well, you're not envisioning him as a reserve. Ross may not start immediately but the expectation will be that he becomes a starter very soon.

Where does that leave Boyd? Not necessarily on the outside looking in. He could challenge LaFell and also beat out Ross this season. But in order to see more playing time, he likely would need to be very impressive and come out ahead of both of those guys on the depth chart. And none of that even factors injuries, which, as the Bengals saw with Green going down last year, are known to happen.

But what shouldn't be forgotten, too, is that Cincinnati returns Tyler Eifert for hopefully a full season. Eifert is one of the top tight ends in the league and missed half of last year with an injury. If he stays healthy, it will essentially also mean less touches for the wideouts.

In other words, he'll have work to do if he wants a breakout type of season.

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