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Bengals Linebackers Are A Group To Watch On Saturday Versus Titans

There are only a couple of linebacker spots open on the Bengals' final roster this year, and many players will have to prove themselves worthy of those spots on Saturday against the Titans.

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

When a team has a deep roster, there is an element that is bittersweet. Obviously, having a deep team means that you're ensured of hanging on to some quality talent. On the flip side of that coin are the painful decisions that the coaches will have to make in letting go of some other quality players who will likely help out another NFL team. The Bengals are in a rare scenario where they will be faced with such decisions because of their roster depth.

Of the many roster scrums that we have had the pleasure of watching first-hand, courtesy of HBO's "Hard Knocks", linebacker is quickly becoming an intriguing one. A couple of unproven guys played well in the team's preseason debut against the Falcons, while others didn't really do anything to make themselves stand out.


J.K. Schaffer: The backup to Rey Maualuga came in and did well on a number of plays. Our own Josh Kirkendall provided a nice film breakdown earlier in the week on his performance. While he appears to be looking to latch onto the spot that was vacated by Dan Skuta this offseason, Schaffer needs to show consistent performances this offseason to show that he's worth keeping around. Another solid performance in backup duty against the Titans, as well as on special teams will help his cause.

Jayson DiManche: The undrafted rookie has been the talk of the week since his performance against the Falcons. To be quite honest, I was surprised that he wasn't more of a focus on "Hard Knocks", given his draft status, his showing in the game, and his brief moments in front of the camera in the first episode..Nevertheless, he recorded a sack and two tackles for loss and was seen making plays in his limited snaps in Atlanta. As we reported, one NFC scout gushed over DiManche and is ruing the day that his team didn't draft him. DiManche showed the ability to play the run along with rushing the passer and if he continues to impress, a job on the final roster could be his.


Vincent Rey: The NFL is a "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" league and Rey is the unfortunate victim of that mantra. He suffered a knee injury during practice sessions with the Falcons and didn't play in the first preseason game. Rey did return to practice this Wednesday, though we don't know if that means that he will be suiting up against the Titans or not. If he does, Rey will need to remind the coaches of his special teams abilities, as well as make some plays on defense.

Sean Porter: It seems like we have heard comments and observations about almost every Bengals player during camp except Porter. Initially, the coaches talked about how he could back up every spot in the linebacker group and add a little bit of pass rush, as he did at Texas A & M. Our own Brennen Warner, who has been to numerous practices at Bengals camp this year, noted that Porter has looked slow and tentative while playing. That stigma proved to be true in the first preseason game, as he only had one tackle in his time. With Schaffer and DiManche putting up quality performances,

Aaron Maybin: The Bengals collected Maybin off of the scarp heap this offseason, after failed stints with the Jets and Bills. He was a disappointing top pick of Buffalo back in 2009, had a flash-in-the-pan season in New York in 2011, and then was allowed to walk after the 2012 season ended. The Bengals had hoped that Maybin could be an able pass-rusher on the strong side that Manny Lawson (who ironically landed with the Bills this season) was never able to give them. However, Maybin's misfortune was the Bengals gain, as the team didn't foresee their opportunity of being able to land James Harrison for that role. Maybin didn't do anything in the preseason opener and he'll really need to impress the staff to show that he can be Harrison's backup.

Brandon Joiner: Most fans are pulling for the talented, but troubled undrafted rookie from 2012. He spent some time in prison last year because of a previous legal run-in, but the Bengals like his ability to rush the passer from the linebacker spot. Like Porter, reports have been very quiet on Joiner since he re-joined the team before camp, though he did have one tackle against the Falcons. It's possible that the team will want to see him rush the passer against the Titans and he'll need to prove his ware in that respect.