One preseason game left. After a dominating half when starters were playing last Sunday, the Bengals roster is starting to take shape. As with many teams, most guys’ spot on the 53 is safe. The final game Thursday night against the Colts will help fill out the final 4-6 spots, if that. With the two teams then playing to open up the season on September 9th, there will be little if no “showing” much of anything. Here is my projection of the 53-man roster that will be finalized after this weeks preseason finale.
QB (2): Andy Dalton, Jeff Driskel
The battle for the backup quarterback spot continued Sunday with Matt Barkley getting the first shot, along with most of the starting offensive line. Jeff Driskel, who was the second QB to play in Dallas, followed him and much like the rest of the offseason, the offense just seemed smoother and crisper. If performance is what the Bengals are going off of for the backup spot, Driskel is the easy choice.
Cut: Matt Barkley, Logan Woodside
RB (4): Joe Mixon, Gio Bernard, Mark Walton, Tra Carson
While the passing offense has looked solid to exceptional during the preseason, the running game has been everything but. Much, if not all, of the struggles can be attributed to the offensive line getting manhandled at the line of scrimmage. Mixon, Bernard, and 4th round pick Mark Walton are locks. However, the small bright spot of the running game has been Tra Carson. He leads the team in carries and yards, as he is averaging 4.5 yards per attempt. He also has the only rushing touchdown.
Cut: Brian Hill, Jarveon Williams, Quinten Flowers
H-Back (1): Ryan Hewitt
Ryan Hewitt still has two years left on his deal, but his snap count has decreased steadily since his rookie campaign. Last year, he was used on just 11% of offensive plays. I’m not sold on him making it, and it will come down to whether or not they want to keep a 10th offensive lineman.
Cut: Cethan Carter, Jordan Franks
WR (6): AJ Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Josh Malone, Alex Erickson, Auden Tate
The potential from the starting receivers was on full display from play one in Buffalo. Andy Dalton hit John Ross on a 57-yard TD, which was the first time we have seen Ross’ skill set that he showed off at the University of Washington. He certainly can do things few other guys in the league can. AJ is AJ and Tyler Boyd is going to be a first down machine. Malone has the fourth spot on lock, while Erickson is still their go-to return guy. Auden Tate is close to a lock with his rare combination of height and body control. There is no chance he makes it through to the practice squad. Cody Core is the odd man out. His chances weren’t great as Tate showed out in camp and then they really took a hit when he got hurt.
Cut: Cody Core, Kermit Whitfield, Ka’Raun White, Devonte Boyd, Kayuane Ross, Jared Murphy
TE (3): Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, CJ Uzomah
The tight-end room is set. Eifert is healthy and got his first action since Week 2 last season on Sunday. The team can only hope that they get 8 games from him. Kroft and Uzomah are experienced and talented enough to fill in if (and when) he does go down. Mason Schreck has some potential with his size, and a great candidate for the practice squad for the 2nd straight season.
Cut: Mason Schreck, Moritz Bohringer
OT (4): Cordy Glenn, Bobby Hart, Cedric Ogbuehi, Jake Fisher
It may not be pretty, but this is the group that will be responsible for keeping Andy Dalton from the vaunted edge rushers. Yikes.
Cut: Justin Murray, Kent Perkins
OG (4): Clint Boling, Alex Redmond, Christian Westerman, Trey Hopkins
Boling is the starter on the left side. The right side is much more up in the air. Hopkins, the opening day starter from a year ago, started the first two games, but Redmond started in Buffalo. It didn’t go so well. Who knows which of the three will be their in Indianapolis in 12 days.
Cut: Cory Helms
OC (1): Billy Price
The Bengals first round pick will be snapping to Andy Dalton from day one. He has yet to allow a pressure on 59 passing plays in the preseason.
Cut: TJ Johnson, Brad Lundblade
DE (5): Carlos Dunlap, Carl Lawson, Michael Johnson, Jordan Willis, Sam Hubbard
All five defensive ends are going to be on the 53-man, and they are all going to play. This group has the potential to be part of one of the best DLs in football. Just watch the first half of Sunday’s game.
DT (4): Geno Atkins, Andrew Billings, Ryan Glasgow, Josh Tupou
The star of the preseason, Andrew Billings, is the perfect guy to play next to Geno Atkins. Billings can be a big-time run stopper, and has shown some unreal pass rushing ability. He is finally back from his knee injury before his rookie year, and ready to go. Glasgow is a great rotational piece as well. Andrew Brown, the 5th round pick from this year, has battled injury all preseason, probably costing him a spot. Josh Tupou fits the profile of a 4-3 nose tackle, however he will most likely be inactive on game days if he makes it.
Cut: Andrew Brown, Eddy Wilson, Simeyon Robinson, Chris Okoye
LB (6): Preston Brown, Nick Vigil, Jordan Evans, Malik Jefferson, Vincent Rey, Hardy Nickerson
With Burfict suspended, the Bengals have the decision to go thin at linebacker, but Nickerson got some experience last season. He can at least be on the team the first four weeks. Junior Joseph and Chris Worley are potential practice squad guys.
Suspended: Vontaze Burfict
Cut: Junior Joseph, Chris Worley, Brandon Bell
CB (5): Will Jackson III, Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, Keivaire Russell, Devontae Harris
While the starters are set and solid, the depth behind those three is extremely below average. Russell hasn’t been able to live up to third round expectation since getting cut by the Chiefs before his rookie season begin, he is the next best one. Devontae Harris is the better of the two rookies, even though Darrius Phillips has shown electricity on special teams.
Cut: Tony McRae, Darrius Phillips, Sojourney Shelton, CJ Goodwin
S (5): Shawn Williams, Jesse Bates III, Clayton Fejedelem, Josh Shaw, Brandon Wilson
Two weeks ago, I didn’t see Shaw making it, despite his versatility and experience. But, with the release of Iloka, he is now a lock to add depth with Fejedelem. Brandon Wilson, like Shaw, can play both corner and safety, as well as add talent on special teams.
Cut: Trayvon Henderson, Ty Beverette
K (1): Randy Bullock
Despite the excitement of Jonathan Brown, there is no competition.
Cut: Jonathan Brown
Punter (1): Kevin Huber
LS (1): Clark Harris
Practice Squad (11): Logan Woodside, Jarveon Williams, Kermit Whitfield, Mason Schreck, Moritz Bohringer, Kent Perkins, Andrew Brown, Junior Joseph, Chris Worley, Darrius Phillips, Trayvon Henderson