Often faded into the background during Cincinnati's struggle for roster superiority is the collection of practice squad players with ambitions to develop into fine assets for Cincinnati in the future. No. They're currently not the most productive or made-ready group of guys, all of whom cleared waivers with 31 other NFL teams. Nor is it likely that they're All-Pros in the making.
Yet there are guys on the current 53-man roster with roster squad experience (not all with Cincinnati). Such as fullback Chris Pressley, linebacker Vinnie Rey, offensive tackle Dennis Roland, safety Jeromy Miles, long-snapper and wide receiver Armon Binns. Again. Again. Not necessarily an all-star lineup but quality role players nonetheless.
Currently the Bengals have eight players on the practice squad; five on offense and three on defense. Guys like linebacker Emmanuel Lamur, who could make the progression to the 53 by next year. Or Chris Lewis-Harris, expanding on a well-played preseason, developing this year with a hopeful progression making the secondary younger, maybe as soon as next season.
And even running back Daniel Herron, currently on the practice squad despite a shortage of running backs on a roster already dealing with injuries. Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden rejected overtures of promoting Herron earlier this month, saying "He's developing. ... He's got a ways to go."
Russ Lande of the National Football Post, who is examining practice squads in the AFC North, says this of Daniel Herron.
Despite good instincts/vision with very quick feet and a deceptive burst through the hole, Herron’s lack of top end speed and a bad forty time led to him not being selected until the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. An aggressive runner who runs with excellent body lean, good strength and natural balance contribute to his ability to consistently run through arm/grab tackles to gain yards after contact.
Herron was mostly unproductive during preseason, generating 42 yards rushing on 25 carries for a 1.7 yard/rush average. Plus he lost a fumble during the finale against the Indianapolis Colts. Lande continues.
He is however a bit of a “straight line” runner who lacks the wiggle to make tacklers miss, which is vital for success in the NFL. While he has excellent hands catching the ball, unless he improves greatly in pass protection he will never be able to contribute as a receiver in the NFL. If Herron can improve his pass protection he should be able to make it in the NFL as a backup tailback and third down running back.
The 3-4 Cincinnati Bengals enter the bye week with two healthy backs while Brian Leonard continues to rehabilitate injured ribs that kept him out against the Pittsburgh Steelers.