Quarterback (2): Andy Dalton, Josh Johnson
Andy Dalton enters the third season with heavy expectations, not only as a leader, but with the weapons that the team surrounded him with. Johnson beat John Skelton in the battle for backup quarterback.
Running Back (4): BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Giovani Bernard, Cedric Peerman, Rex Burkhead
Burkhead had more yards from scrimmage than Daniel Herron and a better pass blocking score, according to Pro Football Focus. But really, you couldn't go wrong with Burkhead or Herron.
Full Back (1): John Conner
I believe that the Bengals will keep Conner so that they have a natural fullback (and a good blocker) on the roster for short-yardage and goalline situations. But my confidence is fairly split. They could go with Alex Smith, which would eliminate Conner.
Tight End (3): Jermaine Gresham, Tyler Eifert, Orson Charles
Alex Smith could factor into Cincinnati's decision, especially if there's concern about Eifert's wrist injury that held him out against the Cowboys and Colts. Charles wasn't entirely impressive during the preseason and if the Bengals want the immediate impact of Smith, it's entirely possible that they release Charles. His move to H-Back was a last ditch effort to find a home on the roster, but Hue Jackson may factor the most convincing argument to keep him.
Wide Receiver (7): A.J. Green, Mohamed Sanu, Marvin Jones, Andrew Hawkins (IR), Brandon Tate, Cobi Hamilton, Ryan Whalen
Going with seven receivers to account for Andrew Hawkins' injury. He has to be on the 53-man roster before he's eligible for the Injured Reserve with a designation to return (which can be declared at 4 p.m. on Tuesday). It might not be entirely necessary though -- Cincinnati could release Whalen, Sanzenbacher and Hamilton and hope that one of those players are available after the team places Hawkins on IR this Tuesday.
Went with Whalen over Sanzenbacher, not because of the special teams work, rather a greater probable impact as a backup receiver capable of playing every position -- plus the Bengals added Whalen as a seventh receiver last year, promoting the belief that the coaches love Whalen and will do whatever they can to keep him on the roster.
Offensive Line (9): Andrew Whitworth, Andre Smith, Kyle Cook, Kevin Zeitler, Clint Boling, Anthony Collins, Tanner Hawkinson, Trevor Robinson, Mike Pollak
I believe that Hawkinson squeezes Dennis Roland out of the 53-man roster. Pollak and Robinson are likely the backup interior linemen with Collins and Hawkinson (both with experience as backup guards), backing up both offensive tackle positions. The Bengals could keep Roland as a tenth offensive lineman to account for Whitworth's knee injury, which might not be responding well -- and there's suspicion that he had another procedure done recently.
Defensive Tackle (4): Domata Peko, Geno Atkins, Devon Still, Brandon Thompson
Defensive End (5): Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Wallace Gilberry, Robert Geathers, Margus Hunt
Nothing really needs to be said.
Linebacker (6): Rey Maualuga, Vontaze Burfict, James Harrison, Vinnie Rey, Jayson DiManche, J.K. Schaffer
The team's linebacker position took a serious hit during the preseason this year. Emmanuel Lamur, the team's starting linebacker in nickel and dime packages, is done for the season with a shoulder. So is fourth-round pick Sean Porter, who also suffered a shoulder injury, and 2012 college free agent Brandon Joiner with an ACL.
One man's misery is another man's opportunity. Most likely those injuries squeeze DiManche and Schaffer into the 53-man roster. Whether or not Schaffer sticks around by Monday morning, is another question entirely. But if he stays, it doesn't suggest that the linebacker roster is in trouble -- only that the Bengals may look for a better option as a coverage backer.
Cornerback (5): Leon Hall, Terence Newman, Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Brandon Ghee
Due to Kirkpatrick and Ghee undergoing concussion protocols and Adam Jones recovering from a rib injury, it wouldn't be surprising if the Bengals add a sixth cornerback with someone like Chris Lewis-Harris or Shaun Prater.
Safety (4): Reggie Nelson, George Iloka, Shawn Williams, Jeromy Miles
We reduced the number here so that the Bengals could take a seventh receiver to account for Andrew Hawkins' injury.
I'm in the minority here, but I believe that Jeromy Miles does more for special teams than what Taylor Mays does for defense; how much of a difference is there between Mays and Miles anyway? Look at this way, Miles had more tackles than Mays, despite the fact that Mays had nearly 100 more defensive snaps during the preseason. And Mays was once again a liability in coverage, allowing a touchdown and a 145.8 opposing quarterback rating. But I could easily see the team preferring Mays over Miles.
Special Teams (3): Mike Nugent, Kevin Huber, Clark Harris