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Chris Henry returns, running back spot in serious shortage

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Chick Ludwig writes that the Cincinnati Bengals have been granted a "one-game roster exemption for wide receiver Chris Henry" who's now officially back with the Cincinnati Bengals after serving a four-game suspension to start the 2008 NFL season.

If the Bengals choose to play Henry against the Dallas Cowboys, and based on Marvin Lewis' read-between-the-lines comments on Henry in recent week it might not happen, then they'll be required to place him on the 53-man roster by 4 p.m. on Saturday. If they do not, then the roster exemption expires the day after the October 5th game against the 3-1 Cowboys.

Now, here's the issue.

The Bengals were left with two healthy running backs against the Browns after Kenny Watson was inactive. DeDe Dorsey left the game with a hamstring injury that could be severe enough to place him on Injury Reserve. If the Bengals do that, then they'll have a roster spot for Henry. The problem is that Chris Perry will be the team's sole running back until Watson gets healthy. Also note that Dorsey's condition is hypothetical.

Based on Dorsey's condition, the Bengals will likely hit the market for a running back, with the most obvious availability being Shaun Alexander. Now if Watson is able to return, it gives the Bengals the option of signing James Johnson to the roster without significant salary distribution -- provided that Alexander isn't that much better than James Johnson.

Then again, Dorsey could return and the team could be at full strength at running back by Dallas or the New York Jets.