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Roster Prediction: Injuries Have Hurt Linebacker Position

Three out of the past five seasons, the Cincinnati Bengals kept six linebackers once they cut down their roster to the 53-maximum. Based on injuries at certain positions, along with the need to develop and enhance the team's special teams roster, the team very well could take seven this year.

Linebackers (4): Rey Maualuga, Brandon Johnson, Thomas Howard, Manny Lawson

The only reason Keith Rivers isn't listed as a lock is because he's most likely headed to the Reserve/PUP list, which allows the team to use a roster exemption until he returns (at minimum until the six week of the regular season). Roddrick Muckelroy is out for the season and Dontay Moch isn't likely to return for the first quarter of the season at the earliest.

If the team takes six linebackers, it leaves two spots open between Dan Skuta, DeQuin Evans, Vincent Rey and Stephen Franklin. Skuta had a good showing against the Lions against the run and Evans has played well enough to stick around in conversation while Vincent Rey is a proven special teams contributor.

Cincinnati does have the option to go with seven linebackers, keeping Skuta, Evans and Rey to start the season, which would give the team a decent core for their special teams roster. Rivers and Moch will eventually return so don't assume that this roster of linebackers at the start of the season will be the same roster after the October 23 bye week.