Bengals at Cowboys: Four bubble players to watch on offense

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 offense.

Alex Smith: A strong tight end with enough balance to warrant the discussion, but facing a road through impenetrable congestion. We're growing with confidence in our belief that the Bengals will keep John Conner at full back, Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert at tight end while using Orson Charles as the backup to both positions with specific packages that uses him at H-Back. If the Bengals keep Smith, they'll have to ditch Conner or Charles and based on interviews, practices, preseason games, and even Hard Knocks, I'm finding that hard to believe.

Daniel Herron: This, I realize, might be an opinion held by the minority. Despite having a strong preseason, sharing the league lead with 111 yards rushing through two games, Herron is making a strong case. I believe that Cedric Peerman has an advantage with a reliable history in the regular season and that the team will keep Rex Burkhead over Herron -- Herron would be easier to clear waivers for the practice squad; which we've pointed out several times over the past two weeks.

But that's why he's a bubble player.(Even though he has a chance to make it)

Dane Sanzenbacher/Ryan Whalen: At this point, I'm assuming that Andrew Hawkins is going on IR with a designation to return later this season. The Bengals will have to declare Hawkins on the 53-man roster after final cuts before they're allowed to place Hawkins on that specific IR list, which means that Cincinnati could keep seven wide receivers (including Hawkins) after final cuts. Sanzenbacher could be that seventh player, due to his special teams role, becoming the sixth receiver when Hawkins is placed on IR.

Whalen is included on this discussion, but has more of an impact on the team's offense. He has experience here and more versatility knowing every wide receiver position. And for two years they've found every opportunity to keep Whalen on the 53-man roster.

Dennis Roland: With Tanner Hawkinson coming back this week, perhaps targeting the Indianapolis Colts in preseason game number four as his return, Roland goes on the uh-oh list. Hawkinson is a versatile offensive lineman that could spell relief for any of the tackles and guards, specifically on the left side of the line. Roland is a beast in the running game, a proven run blocker that the team usually finds ways to keeping around. Hawkinson, on the other hand, has more upside and figures to be a solid lock on the team's roster.

Hawkinson gives the Bengals four offensive tackles and four offensive guards (five if we include Trevor Robinson as the first backup interior offensive lineman between the guards). It gives Cincinnati an opportunity to go light with offensive lineman for an extra roster spot at, say, wide receiver.

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