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NFL Roster Cuts: Bengals Pregame 53-Man Projection

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We take a look at the team's 53-man roster prior to their preseason finale against the Indianapolis Colts.

Brian Spurlock-US PRESSWIRE

QB (2): Andy Dalton, Josh Johnson

John Skelton should get some work Thursday evening after being excluded against the Cowboys last week due to the limited number of possessions by the team. But don't expect him to do enough to replace Josh Johnson, who should secure his spot as the team's backup quarterback.

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

The debate between Rex Burkhead and Daniel Herron is boiled down to who could pass through waivers for the honor to signing with Cincinnati's practice squad. Many believe that title will belong to Herron, but both will have their opportunity to claim that final spot Thursday night. Obviously, I believe Peerman is secure, but some will add him to a three-man race for two spots.

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

Now with Chris Pressley on the Reserve/PUP list, I have a strong belief that this will be the team's fullback and tight end roster. Alex Smith could make a convincing argument for the 53-man roster, but will it be enough to replace John Conner or Orson Charles? I'd don't see it right now. Conner offers violent collisions with oversized shoulder pads as an impact blocker during the team's running game. And Charles is Hue Jackson's little pet duck.

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

To me, Tate has secured his spot on the roster -- much to the moaning of most Bengals fans. Already the team leader in yards receiving during the preseason, Tate added a 75-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Cowboys. Cobi Hamilton added a fourth down conversion and powered through defenders for a touchdown during the same possession. Hamilton has had the dropsies during training camp and fumbled the football last week -- but consider that the receiver listed sixth on the depth chart won't be asked to do much, other than special teams and eventual development as a receiver.

Dane Sanzenbacher has been a popular choice and may knock Hamilton out, but I'm not there just yet -- considering that Sanzenbacher hasn't done much since Atlanta.

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

I don't see much change at this point. Reid Fragel is ideal for the practice squad, maybe T.J. Johnson too. Collins and Roland have been the first tackles behind first-team players Whitworth and Smith respectively throughout the preseason, so you know they're likely staying. Hawkinson appears to be healthier and based on his age and projected ceiling, he should beat out Mike Pollak.

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

We've said since May that this will be your defensive line. Nothing has changed since then.

LB (6): Rey Maualuga, Vontaze Burfict, James Harrison, Vinnie Rey, Emmanuel Lamur, Jayson DiManche

Sean Porter was placed on Injured Reserve this week after suffering a torn shoulder labrum. Now we promote the next man up, Jayson DiManche. If the Bengals go with seven, look for J.K. Schaffer to make his argument this weekend.

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

The argument boils down to one or two spots at defensive back. Will the team keep five safeties with special teams ace Jeromy Miles, or do they keep a sixth cornerback like Chris Lewis-Harris, especially with Ghee and Kirkpatrick undergoing concussion protocols?

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

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