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Bengals Roster Battle: Five players that helped their cause against the Falcons

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The third and fourth quarter of a preseason game can be a snoozer at times, but for the players playing, it's a matter of continuing their NFL careers.

Kevin C. Cox

We take a look at players in the middle of position battles as bubble players. These players had good and even great performances, helping improve their stock for an eventual argument on Cincinnati's 53-man roster.

QB Josh Johnson:

Bengals backup quarterback Josh Johnson made his Bengals debut with three minutes remaining in the first quarter. He played the entire second quarter and all but a handful of downs in the third.

Johnson played six possessions, three going 10 plays or more, led the Bengals to their first 20 points, led the team in passing (100 yards passing) and rushing (64 yards rushing).

We added Johnson on this decision because the Bengals will likely only keep two quarterbacks, and third-team quarterback John Skelton had very good outing in the fourth quarter with a perfect 158.3 passer rating.

WR Dane Sanzenbacher:

We'd easily give Josh Johnson the preseason MVP award for his performance, but Dane Sanzenbacher would be a close second. Maybe even an argument for the award itself, but that's not really important.

Though he only played 17 snaps against the Falcons on Thursday, Sanzenbacher caught two passes and generated a team-leading 59 yards receiving -- including a 36-yard touchdown reception in the fourth. He added a 71-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third, and generated 130 total yards on Thursday.

RB Rex Burkhead:

The sixth-round rookie led all non-quarterbacks with 52 yards rushing on nine carries, averaging 5.8 yards/rush -- also tops among the team's running backs.

LB J.K. Schaffer:

A strong effort against the Falcons, generating a team-high six tackles. We're not sure if there's much room for bubble players at linebacker, but Schaffer has been a solid contributor dating back to his preseason with the Jacksonville Jaguars last year.

LB: Jayson DiManche:

Tracked down the quarterback for a quarterback sacks, added another tackle for loss, hit on the quarterback and two total tackles. And he did that playing only 13 snaps Thursday night.