Based on our comparisons from our 2011 roster lock to the team's actual 53-man roster released on Saturday, there were few surprises -- actually we only missed three changes. The Bengals decided to keep six safeties and four cornerbacks, whereas we thought they'd load up on cornerbacks and keep only four safeties. We kept guys like Rico Murray and Jonathan Wade, availing their spots on the roster to sign at least one of the 800-plus free agents that were released on Saturday. Instead the Bengals kept Jeromy Miles and Gibril Wilson. We did nail quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, the defensive line, linebackers and special teams. Yes we're that vain to point out what we thought was a strong showing with our roster locks.
Though we did miss the offensive line and only for one reason. Bobbie Williams was served a four-game suspension, forcing the team to keep Otis Hudson on the roster (even though Hudson might be too injured to start the season). The violation, according to multiple sources, is that Williams tested positive for performance enhancing substances.
One could question, with Williams rarely injured and already massively huge, why would he need any PED? The truth is the league tends to ban many substances that you find at your local GNC, categorizing it as a PED. Williams has been a model teammate and one of our favorites since he joined the team in 2004; there's no reason to believe all of the sudden that Williams is locking the bathroom stall and injecting himself with performance enhancing drugs. And yes, we're giving Williams the benefit of the doubt because the history of his quality play, openness with the media and fan interaction is so much more than one instance of violating the league's substance policy.
Williams' agent spit fire on Saturday, angry at the league's handling of the suspension that he and Williams learned through the media -- not the league. Tony Agnone hints that the banned substance in question is largely over the league's over-zealous attempts to add to an already complicated list.
"The program has run amuck," Agnone said. "It was designed to keep guys from having a competitive edge. It was about taking steroids and now it has gotten far away from it."
The obvious counter point is that Williams should know what's banned and he should know what he's putting in his body. And if the league banned a substance (and stretching it by calling it a PED), then they banned a substance, whatever that may be.
At the same time fans shouldn't immediately picture Williams doing his impression of Steve Lattimer from The Program. Williams deserves the benefit of the doubt from fans right now, who has done nothing but become the epitome of consistency, having only missed three starts during his entire Bengals career (and those three came in 2006 after having an appendectomy).