The Cincinnati Bengals released their first depth chart of the preseason and most of it is something that all of us could have thrown together with a high-level of accuracy. Either way here's five instant reactions from the team's depth chart, version 1.0.
THE CURIOUS CASE OF THE NO. 2 WIDE RECEIVER. Brandon Tate looked good early. Armon Binns has looked good as of late. Tate is listed at the No. 2 wide receiver on Cincinnati's recently released depth chart with Binns bump-drafting him down the backstretch. Either way this topic won't be settled for some time and there's plenty of time for someone like Mohamed Sanu and Ryan Whalen to make a game-changing impact.
There's four preseason games and over 30 days remaining for someone to make that impression.
BRANDON TATE IS FRIGGIN' EVERYWHERE. Along with competing for the No. 2 wide receiver spot on offense, Tate is listed as the No. 1 returner for all return duties. We don't expect this trend to continue.
If he earns significant playing time as the No. 2 wide receiver, there's no way that the Bengals will use him as a return specialist like last season. Alternatively if he fails to secure the No. 2 receiver spot, then his only realistic shot to make the team could simply fall on being the return specialist... again.
But being Mr-Do-It-All? Doubtful.
EXPECTING DEFENSIVE LINE TO BE STATIC. Save for the shadow-demon injury that tends to surface when least expected, we could see the current depth chart playing out as the team's opening weekend roster.
If he's healthy by early September, Robert Geathers probably swaps with Carlos Dunlap to resume his role the starting left defensive end, keeping Dunlap in as a specialist (and thus keeping him fresh for obvious passing downs). But while Geathers is on the mend, Dunlap naturally starts. And there's always the chance that rookie Brandon Thompson replaces Pat Sims, or that the Bengals keep five defensive tackles.
Either way. We're not expecting many changes here before final cuts -- and even then it'll be the third-team guys that go.
EARN YOUR PLACE ON THE TEAM, ROOK. Bengals rookies are generally placed on the far-right side of the depth chart during training camp and preseason. There are always a few exceptions, like Kevin Zeitler (first-team right guard) and Devon Still (second-team defensive tackle), but for the most part it's where rookies expect to find their names.
This isn't necessarily an issue of the rookies not performing. Marvin Lewis tends to place them at the bottom until they've earn a spot on the team. Call it motivation. Call it The Holy Humble Hell machine. Call it Nancy. Call it a fact of Marvin's world.
DEPTH CHART TRANSLATION: Your Starting Lineup Is Largely Set. We know we tend to advise caution when reading into the team's depth chart, saying that one shouldn't chisel names on Moses' stones (that kind of didn't come out right). Yet one of the team's offseason strengths was keeping the band together on both sides of the ball.
Except for the No. 2 wide receiver competition (aka, the position that Andy Dalton throws to to give A.J. Green a break), the first-team roster on offense is your starting lineup. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will start, secured following Bernard Scott's injury last week that could keep him out for some time. Chris Pressley, the offensive line, A.J. Green, Andy Dalton, Jermaine Gresham; they're all starting against the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football.
Much of the same for the defense. Robert Geathers may start over Carlos Dunlap if he recovers in time for the regular season. However Dre Kirkpatrick's injury gives Nate Clements breathing room while the first-team linebackers are your starting linebackers.
The next four weeks boils down really to the team's depth chart and backup players. But what you see on first-team will start the season next month.