Steam rolls out from our beakers, flames from our bunsen burners and somewhere in our laboratory the actual sound of (Muhaha) echoes throughout dullness of thick ceramic walls. Lightning strikes during a cloudless sky silhouetted behind a pasty glow of a full moon. Lab coats full of notes and leaky pens, scrambles to put together the perfect list. A predicted roster of players locked into a job when the league requires teams to reduce their roster to 53 players.
So what have come up with?
#38: Frostee Rucker (DT/DE): The Bengals have long liked Frostee Rucker, taking him as the ninth defensive linemen before the 53-man roster -- which at the time was a slight surprise. Benefiting Rucker, much like Fanene, is the team's likelihood of taking three defensive tackles into the regular season, needing guys like Rucker and Fanene to rotate inside on obvious passing situations when Sims and Peko take breathers.
#39: Kelly Jennings (CB): The Bengals have obvious concerns with Adam Jones' (neck) rehabilitation and Morgan Trent's knee (the same knee that forced Cincinnati to rework his contract, protecting themselves from it). Along with Marvin Lewis' praise for a guy that can take 500-600 snaps a season, it's a safe bet that Jennings was locked in as soon as the trade was made.
#40: Dan Skuta (MLB): Unfortunately we can't expect Rey Maualuga to take every defensive snap in 2011. He needs a backup and Skuta has been particularly strong against the run this preseason. Through three games, Skuta, also a heavy special teams contributor, leads the team with 14 total tackles.
#41: Robert Sands (FS): The fifth-round draft pick during the 2011 NFL Draft is only our third safety locked in. This position needs bodies. Badly. We could actually foresee a scenario in which the Bengals take 11 defensive backs loaded with safeties, much like they did in 2007.
Our updated Roster Locks.
Quarterback (2): Andy Dalton, Bruce Gradkowski
Running Back (3): Cedric Benson, Bernard Scott, Brian Leonard
Full Back (1): Chris Pressley
Offensive Line (7): Andrew Whitworth, Bobbie Williams, Kyle Cook, Andre Smith, Anthony Collins, Clint Boling, Nate Livings
Wide Receiver (4): A.J. Green, Jerome Simpson, Jordan Shipley, Andre Caldwell
Tight End (1): Jermaine Gresham
Defensive Line (8): Domata Peko, Geno Atkins, Pat Sims, Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, Robert Geathers, Jonathan Fanene, Frostee Rucker
Linebackers (5): Rey Maualuga, Brandon Johnson, Thomas Howard, Manny Lawson, Dan Skuta
Defensive Backs (7): Chris Crocker, Reggie Nelson, Robert Sands, Leon Hall, Nate Clements, Morgan Trent, Kelly Jennings
Place-kicker (1): Mike Nugent
Punter (1): Kevin Huber
Long Snapper (1): Clark Harris