Bengals linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy suffered a season-ending Achilles injury a day after Cincinnati placed Keith Rivers on Active/Non-Football Injury List for surgery on his wrist that could keep him out midway through the season. Cincinnati's newest signing, Thomas Howard, figures to get the bulk of the defensive snaps on the weakside and during nickel situations alongside middle linebacker Rey Maualuga.
This leaves the strongside linebacker spot wide open.
Now that Muckelroy is out of the race, it could come down to Dan Skuta, Vincent Rey or even Dontay Moch, who was originally believed to be a special teams player and a pass rushing specialist. But then that's what training camp and the preseason is there for. To find the best possible player.
But as Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes, that player might not be on the team yet.
The Bengals look to still be in the market for a veteran at the strong side spot. If you had to do a depth chart right now, Dan Skuta would be penciled in as the starter with third-round pick Dontay Moch as the backup. Michael Johnson did play SAM last year during preseason and training camp, but moved back to the defensive line early in the season when there a run of injuries.
Dhani Jones and Brandon Johnson, two former Bengals linebackers with experience on the outside, have to be considerations. However Johnson plays the weakside and with Thomas signed and expected to play the position, the Bengals may not bring him back. Jones, while posting over 160 tackles last season, is 33 years old and hasn't played outside linebacker for nearly five seasons.