Bengals at Cowboys: Four bubble players to watch on defense

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals will be forced to cut over 10 players this week, which got us thinking about the bubble players with a realistic shot on making the 53-man roster on defense.

Taylor Mays: Despite starting last week against the Titans and maybe even starting against the Cowboys on Saturday, Mays could be the last player out at defensive back, especially if they elect to go heavier at another position like linebacker. Or he could be the last one in, if they go with a more traditional development with ten defensive backs.

Assume that Leon Hall, Terence Newman, Reggie Nelson, George Iloka, Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick and Shawn Williams are safe. Jeromy Miles has been a special teams leader since 2010, earning special-teamer designation on the Pro Bowl ballot in '11 with a team-leading number in stops -- go ahead and assume that Darrin Simmons wants him back. Brandon Ghee, another bubble player, gives the Bengals five cornerbacks and four safeties on this assumption.

Now the question is, do they use that tenth spot traditionally reserved for defensive back or a seventh linebacker to keep Jayson DiManche, J.K. Shafffer, Vinnie Rey or Sean Porter (depending on his shoulder)?

Brandon Ghee: As mentioned before, Ghee is a bubble player but not for his talents and production when on the field. Rather his propensity for injury. Ghee is doubtful at best against the Cowboys after sitting most of this week.

The question here becomes whether the Bengals are more comfortable with Ghee's durability questions or Mays. Again, in this scenario, we're thinking that the Bengals keep a seventh linebacker, which would require going lighter than usual elsewhere.

Jayson DiManche: Questions continue to exist whether Sean Porter will have season-ending shoulder surgery. If he does, that opens a spot for a six-man linebacker crew. DiManche, we believe, would be the first man in based on the depth chart because he's the next in line behind Vontaze Burfict with Porter's shoulder.

All of this assumes that the team will keep Vinnie Rey, which is more than likely based on the team's preference to having him on special teams.

J.K. Schaffer: The third inside linebacker, Schaffer needs a strong close in the preseason for consideration. He'd be a solid candidate for special teams and at this point, I believe Schaffer's name only pops up if the team goes with seven linebackers.

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