At 4 p.m. (ET) on Tuesday, every franchise in the NFL will be required to reduce their roster to a maximum of 75 players. Currently the Bengals have 87, including Chris Pressley, Zac Robinson, and Bernard Scott, who are on the team's Active/Physically Unable to Perform List. The Bengals will have to find 12 players to free up -- or less if the team decides to place a player or two on Injured Reserve.
We take a look at the roster, position-by-position, and nominate players that could be released or waived by Tuesday's deadline. Keep in mind that this has nothing to do with the actual 53-man roster, so there are players that are projected as eventual cuts, but not before Cincinnati's preseason finale against the Colts. Cincinnati does not want to reduce their numbers at a position that forces starters and key role players to play a significant number of snaps, risking injury or adding to an otherwise exhaustive preseason and training camp before the first game of the year.
QUARTERBACK: John Skelton didn't play against the Cowboys on Saturday, but it's doubtful that the Bengals will release him on Tuesday. They'll want to keep a third quarterback for mop-up duty during the fourth preseason game against the Colts, allowing Andy Dalton and the first-team offense an early exit. It's possible that they could release Skelton now and depend on Johnson for a majority of Thursday's game, but we doubt it. Why release Skelton when you may need him during the biggest snooze-fest of the preseason?
Projected Cuts: None.
RUNNING BACK: Cincinnati has only five running backs on the roster and based on the traditional breakdown of their over the years, the team will likely release one player at some point. However, like quarterback, it's doubtful the team will want to give BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard too much work against the Colts, leaving Cedric Peerman, Daniel Herron and Rex Burkhead. Plus there's a competition here that still needs to play out.
Projected Cuts: None.
WIDE RECEIVER: Dane Sanzenbacher, Ryan Whalen, and Cobi Hamilton, players projected to be competing for the final spot on the 53-man roster, are safe from cuts this Tuesday. Taveon Rogers, Roy Roundtree, and Jheranie Boyd haven't played much and considering that they needed the most work for significant momentum, I don't see their future in Cincinnati lasting much longer.
Projected Cuts: Taveon Rogers, Roy Roundtree, Jheranie Boyd
FULLBACK/H-Back: Unfortunately, the Bengals can't get the roster exemption for Chris Pressley until after the Physically Unable to Perform list reverts to a reserve status, usually around the time that final cuts are made. John Conner and Orson Charles should feel relatively safe this Tuesday. OK, they are safe.
Projected Cuts: None.
TIGHT END: Jermaine Gresham should rest against the Colts after a possession or two, and the Bengals want to give Tyler Eifert some time off before the regular season starts. Alex Smith will get a majority of those snaps and he'll need at least one backup. Richard Quinn is probably safe Tuesday, but Bryce Davis could be a casualty.
Projected Cuts: Bryce Davis
OFFENSIVE LINE: Reid Fragel appears headed to the practice squad if he clears waivers (he will) and T.J. Johnson might join him. Both need more snaps, and will get a lot this Thursday. Otis Hudson came to Cincinnati to replace the injured Tanner Hawkinson, but then Hudson suffered his own foot injury early and hasn't participated much. John Sullen and Jason Weaver should be nervous this Tuesday also, largely because the team will have enough players to replace the starters against the Colts on Thursday.
Projected Cuts: Otis Hudson, John Sullen, Jason Weaver
DEFENSIVE END: I believe that the roster is set with Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Robert Geathers, Wallace Gilberry, and Margus Hunt. However, with Dunlap and Geathers failing to appear against the Cowboys with injuries, I wouldn't project that everyone else is gone. Dontay Moch is probably safe Tuesday and may even find a home on the practice squad. DeQuin Evans, a little less so.
Projected Cuts: DeQuin Evans
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: If the Bengals only keep four defensive tackles (and they will), that leaves Vaughan Meatoga and Terrence Stephens. Considering that we don't see the Bengals using Geno Atkins and Domata Peko much against the Colts this Thursday, the Bengals will probably keep Stephens.
Projected Cuts: Vaughan Meatoga
LINEBACKER: There's a lot to be decided here. The team is deciding whether or not to place Sean Porter on season-ending injured reserve with a torn shoulder labrum. Brandon Joiner remains on the active roster, but an ACL injury will probably send him to the IR soon so that it's one less actual cut being made.
Projected Cuts: Jordan Campbell, Bruce Taylor, Brandon Joiner (IR), Sean Porter (IR)
CORNERBACK: I don't see the Bengals releasing Onterio McCalebb until the last possible moment, hoping to sneak the speedster turned cornerback through waivers while hundreds of other players are being released and congesting the wire. I think Shaun Prater will be given an opportunity until the last preseason snap and then maybe moved to the practice squad.
Projected Cuts: Terrence Brown
SAFETY: Of the six safeties on the roster right now, Tony Dye will be the first one out. Much like the other positions, the Bengals may keep Dye on the roster so that Reggie Nelson only plays a series or two against the Colts. On the other hand, we're projecting plenty of work for Taylor Mays (fighting for a spot) and Shawn Williams (just needs the experience), limiting the need to keep too many players on the roster.
Projected Cuts: Tony Dye