Bengals 53-Man Roster Projection After Cowboys Loss

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Taking a look at the 53-man roster projection following Cincinnati's 24-18 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

QB (2): Andy Dalton, Josh Johnson

Josh Johnson is clearly the favorite, considering John Skelton didn't take a single snap against the Cowboys. For his part, Johnson has managed 14 possessions under center and led seven scoring drives. On the other hand, the turnovers are becoming a concern. On the other hand, his interception was under intense pressure and the Bengals had to get chunks of yards during the final seconds of the game. The throw was in the middle of two defenders without a Bengals receiver in the screen, meaning someone screwed up. Maybe the quarterback, maybe the receiver. Either way, offensive coordinator Jay Gruden appears more willing to develop Johnson as his guy, meaning that Skelton's journey in Cincinnati is probably over at this point.

RB (4): BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Giovani Bernard, Cedric Peerman, Rex Burkhead

Daniel Herron and Rex Burkhead each ran the football twice for a combined 13 yards rushing. Although Burkhead doubled the number of offensive snaps compared to Herron, the second-year back had four times as many special teams snaps as Burkhead. Nothing has really changed and I'm still favoring Burkhead over Herron at this point -- maybe as simple as who would pass waivers more easily.

FB (2): John Conner, Orson Charles
TE (2): Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert

Based on how the team has used Charles and Conner against the Titans and Cowboys, I believe that the roster at fullback and tight end is pretty much set. Alex Smith could factor, but at this stage I don't see Smith offering anything unique than what these four already possess. He's a good player, but Conner the natural fullback that Cincinnati's offense needs and clearly the coaching staff wants to continue developing Charles. No change.

WR (6): A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Andrew Hawkins, Cobi Hamilton, Brandon Tate

Tate secured his spot on the 53-man roster. Not only is he leading the team in receiving, but he added a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown on Saturday. Cobi Hamilton had a bad fumble on a run against the Cowboys, but then caught football to convert a fourth down and scored a touchdown, powering his way through defenders for a touchdown on a bubble screen. Hamilton needs a lot of work as a development player, but he may be worth it. Could he clear waivers to join the practice squad? Maybe. Maybe not. Would the Bengals even bother risking that move? Now that's the question at this point. If Andrew Hawkins goes on IR there would be one more spot to fill, opening the door for Ryan Whalen and possible Dane Sanzenbacher.

OT (4): Andrew Whitworth, Andre Smith, Anthony Collins, Dennis Roland
OG (3): Kevin Zeitler, Clint Boling, Tanner Hawkinson
Center (2): Kyle Cook, Trevor Robinson

Despite returning to practice, Hawkinson didn't play against the Cowboys. Reid Fragel and maybe even T.J. Johnson could be headed for the practice squad, but I feel that this offensive line is close to being finalized.

DE (5): Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, Wallace Gilberry, Robert Geathers, Margus Hunt
DT (4): Geno Atkins, Domata Peko, Devon Still, Brandon Thompson

Nothing is going to change here. Save for an injury, we might as well introduce this defensive line as your 2013 Cincinnati Bengals.

LB (6): Rey Maualuga, Vontaze Burfict, James Harrison, Vinnie Rey, Emmanuel Lamur, Sean Porter

J.K. Schaffer turned in another solid performance with six tackles, including one on special teams. Porter could go on Injured reserve opening a spot for either Schaffer or Jayson DiManche, who only had two assists on 31 defensive snaps. However, I don't believe DiManche clears waivers and that might be all the team needs to secure him on the 53-man roster. But first the team must decide what to do with Porter before moving on.

CB (5): Leon Hall, Terence Newman, Adam Jones, Brandon Ghee, Dre Kirkpatrick
S (5): Reggie Nelson, George Iloka, Taylor Mays, Shawn Williams, Jeromy Miles

Though anything could change with the final two spots on the defensive backs roster, we're not seeing players like Tony Dye, Chris Lewis-Harris, or even Onterio McCalebb making an argument to replace anyone. That certainty wasn't the case Saturday night. On the other hand, Mays simply isn't making a case for his inclusion. That being said, I don't see someone else replacing him and that probably articulates something about the position's solidifying development.

Special teams (3): Mike Nugent, Kevin Huber, Clark Harris

Save for an injury or another unthinkable scenario, this won't change.

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