Jason Garrison and Josh Kirkendall (me) were sitting around one evening just chatting about the Bengals when suddenly our computers began displaying questions that, while not the most interesting to the common fan, are equally interesting to us helpless, clinically obsessive Bengals fans.
Will an undrafted free agent that was signed after the 2012 NFL draft make the 53-man roster?
Jason Garrison: I would think that one could make the roster. Vontaze Burfict would be the front runner in my book right now, mainly because of his upside, the lack of depth at the middle linebacker position and Rey Maualuga's inconsistency.
Josh Kirkendall: Burfict is a good choice. And I'm going to agree on the position, but not the player. I'm going with linebacker Emmanuel Lamur. Marvin Lewis has identified him as one of the undrafted players that's impressed him the most during the offseason workouts. Not that Burfict wouldn't be a shocker -- he's got the raw skills and you're right about needing depth at middle linebacker.
Garrison: What other position is thin enough, in your opinion, that the Bengals could look to an undrafted free agent to fill a hole?
Kirkendall: To be perfectly honest, I don't get the feeling that the team will keep an undrafted free agent this year, at least a player signed after the 2012 NFL draft.
Garrison: Yeah, I could see them making some room for one or two on them on the practice squad, but that's about it.
Kirkendall: Oh, practice squad is a different story. They'll want to keep Burfict for sure, and I think Taylor Hansen is giving Zac Robinson a run for his money. Perhaps a developing backup quarterback post-Gradkowski era? And one or two receivers. Tony Dye anyone?
Garrison: Yeah, I could see that.
Kirkendall: Don't get me wrong, if Burfict is ready then he should make the team primarily as Maualuga's backup. Most accounts suggest he's still pretty raw and could use a good amount of development first. Though he did well during practices, he at least didn't stand out in a negative sense.
Garrison: What happens to Roddrick Muckelroy if that happens?
Kirkendall: Muckelroy is in the same boat as Jordan Shipley, in my opinion. If he proves to be fully rehabilitated, can do the job, then he's stays. But I don't see Burfict generating that much competition from what we've heard so far.
Garrison: Yeah. I do like the young talent on the team, though. Even if Burfict doesn't make the 53-man roster, the fact that they're giving him a chance is fine by me.
Kirkendall: Me too. Most people that employ common sense sees the value of a low-risk, high-reward situation like Burfict.
Garrison: That means that I have common sense.
Kirkendall: Let's not get hasty, Master Garrison
Who will be the veteran or casualty cut when preseason is over?
Garrison: I will say one of three cornerbacks. Terence Newman, Nate Clements or Adam Jones. I just don't think there's room on the roster for all three of them, especially if Leon Hall returns with his self-targeted training camp date.
Kirkendall: There's a good case that could be made for Nate Clements, especially if Leon Hall proves he's completely rehabilitated.
Garrison: I could see that. Jones is more athletic than the other two and can be useful on special teams and Newman has more of a rapport with Zimmer.
Kirkendall: With Hall and assuming Dre Kirkpatrick are ready to start on day one, why would the team pay $4.3 million for a veteran nickel. Plus Newman drew praise during the offseason practices.
Kirkendall: Though there is a gorilla in the room. A name we've talked about for the past two-plus years.
Garrison: I'm drawing a blank.
Kirkendall: I'll give you a clue, his last name starts with the letter, Geathers.
Garrison: Ah Robert. Yeah, I could see that too. However, I don't think there's another viable option as a starter at the defensive end position. Michael Johnson hasn't really shown me that he can start and be reliable and a rotation with Geathers might be what the team needs until they use a high draft pick on a new end. And on top of that, Carlos Dunlap has been unable to stay healthy for an entire season so far.
Kirkendall: Fair points and for the most part I agree. But Carlos Dunlap and Johnson will be on this team, and then signed Jamaal Anderson and Derrick Harvey over the offseason. If either play up to their potential, then Geathers is as good as gone.
Garrison: Anderson and Harvey have a long way to go to prove to me that they have what it takes to start. Right now, they're still first-round busts.
Kirkendall: But how important are starters on the defensive line? Save for someone like Geno Atkins, this defensive line has been developed into a bunch of situational players. Does Geathers start simply because it's first down and he's a situational run-stopper?
Garrison: That's a good point. Off topic: Prometheus was incredible.
Kirkendall: Well then.
Garrison: Back to the Bengals.
Kirkendall: What about Bruce Gradkowski being a veteran cut? Obviously it would have to do with Tyler Hansen, but is he that safe? Only thing to contradict that seems is the Marvin Lewis prerequisite of keeping a veteran quarterback behind the starter.
Garrison: I think Gradkowski is safe. He's the team's best bet if something happens to Andy Dalton and it's important for the team to keep him around if the worst takes place. He can win with Jay Gruden coaching him and I don't think they can rely on a rookie to take on that responsibility.
Kirkendall: I totally gave you a softball to make you look good.
Garrison: I appreciate that.
Could you see a situation in which the Bengals use Jermaine Gresham and rookie tight end Orson Charles like the Patriots used Bruce Gradkowski and Aaron Hernandez last season?
Garrison: Do you think that was the reason they drafted Charles, or do you think that they just thought he was the best player available?
Kirkendall: Probably a little bit of both. Cincinnati did a great job finding value with most of their selections this year, and they did need a tight end. It's not like Colin Cochart or Donald Lee are going to threaten a defense in the passing game, and most likely used as blockers. Both would be, at most, five-yard hot reads. With Charles on the field, it opens up an entirely new dimension. Even though he might only catch 5-10 passes this year, defenses will at least recognize when he's on the field, enabling coverages to thin out for the rest of the offense.
Garrison: The thought of Gresham, Charles, A.J. Green and one of the other extremely talented receivers on the other side gets me all giddy.
Kirkendall: It's like a Madden wet dream. Empty formation, Tate, Jones on the left, Charles at TE with Gresham split out, Green and Sanu on the right. Or Shipley and Binns, it doesn't matter. There will be 16 guys covering A.J. Green down the field anyway.
Kirkendall: Have to wonder how much we'll see Jay Gruden reinvent the wheel. Look at the options he'll have. Is he a bit on the hot seat? Not for the potential of being fired, but damn... look at those weapons. If this offense doesn't at least improve from last year, one has to think blame will be focused on his creativeness.
Garrison: Hopefully we can see how much imagination he has because he could do some crazy things with the talent on offense.
Kirkendall: Hopefully, my ass. If we're not scoring 500 points this year, then it's off with his head. He'll be another wife of Henry VIII. [Editor's Note: Kirkendall just finished watching The Tudors]