On Friday Jason Garrison released his five things to look for against the Jets, which includes the offense scoring a touchdown, more Cedric Benson, the receivers against the Jets corners, Clint Boling and the overall concept of progress. It's a well-rounded list with core growth for this team to be competitive, at least offensively, during the 2011 season that's generating zero expectations.
That being said we've released our offensive portion of our roster locks so far during this year's preseason. The locks is a means to formulate a final roster prediction. As general praise can indicate some favoritism, we feel that the games are the best (though not only) indicator for players to make the team. Here are five positions that could impact the team's roster during Sunday night's game against the New York Jets.
One of the more meaningless positions on this team, the Bengals third string quarterback has never touched the field for a regular season game during the Marvin Lewis era. Sure Jordan Palmer was the third-string quarterback on the roster during his three games in 2008, but he was the backup quarterback in those games due to Carson Palmer's injury.
Still the Bengals need a third quarterback this year (because you never know) and the competition is centered between Jordan Palmer and Dan LeFevour. Based on Friday's performance, LeFevour should have a slight advantage if we were forced to suggest one. But that's only because LeFevour completed his lone pass attempt for seven yards whereas Palmer completed only one of four passes, including an interception
|Fifth And Sixth Wide Receiver|
Quan Cosby appears as a favorite to return as the team's punt returner. That being said we didn't lock him in for that fifth wide receiver position simply because he hasn't been as active. Cosby should make his preseason debut this Sunday against the New York Jets after fighting muscle soreness. If he can't go then Jamere Holland will return punts. Rookie Ryan Whalen, another receiver expected to be a primary special teams contributor, isn't expected to play Sunday.
While we still believe Cosby is a favorite for the fifth spot, he still needs to reclaim it and show that he's healthy. That sixth spot is even more wide open for Whalen, Holland, Landon Cox, Andrew Hawkins, Bart Johnson, Calvin Russell and John Standeford.
|Shape Of The Tight End|
What will be interesting from this point on is the competition between third-year tight end Chase Coffman and veteran tight end Bo Scaife. Coffman remains the team's top backup tight end, playing with the first team unit as the second tight end in double tight end formations.
Both should receive plenty of playing time this weekend against the Jets. Jermaine Gresham missed the entire week of practice and remains a game-time decision. If he can't go, who starts? Based on the depth chart, it should be Coffman but those charts are generally meaningless during the fluid preseason.
One thing we have to note here is the variable of undrafted free agent Colin Cochart. If Scaife remains unimpressive then we have to wonder if Cochart may challenge Scaife for a roster spot. In truth we feel that the chances of this happening are extreme, simply because Lewis may want to inject some veteran leadership into such a young offense making Cochart a leading candidate for the practice squad.
|Filling Out The Offensive Line|
Based on our locks this week, we have three offensive tackles (Andrew Whitworth, Andre Smith and Anthony Collins), three guards (Bobbie Williams, Clint Boling and Nate Livings) and one center (Kyle Cook) locked into the team's 2011 roster. Traditionally the Bengals have taken nine offensive linemen, which opens two spots.
As much as we hate to admit it, even though that the final two spots on the offensive line roster should be filled by versatile players, Dennis Roland appears as a favorite. Reggie Stephens is in the same boat as a backup to Kyle Cook because the team doesn't have a backup center if injury strikes Cook; though Boling has put in work at center during training camp, we'll like to see how that translates into game situations (something we might see Sunday night). A more long-term vision suggests that Cook will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, projecting the need to develop a center if he leaves -- which would be Stephens at this point.
Free agent signing Max Jean-Gilles could factor at some point, due to his status as a veteran free agent. If that's the case he'll have to beat out either Nate Livings, Roland or Reggie Stephens, unless the team decides to go with ten offensive linemen (which could create a competition between Jean-Gilles and Andrew Gardner). Yet based on his performance against Detroit, Jean-Gilles has a long way to go.
As we wrote on the subject, Pressley is as close of a lock for this roster as anyone. One of the reasons we didn't include him was simply the team's unorthodox history regarding the position. They choose Jeremi Johnson over Pressley and Fui Vakapuna in 2009, even though Johnson was overweight and out of shape when coming into camp. They didn't even bother taking a full back in 2010.
That being said, if he plays well on Friday then he's likely turning into our 18th lock for this offense.