For the second week in a row, the Bengal starters played great, but the backups left a lot to be desired. That's making it harder to project the final 53-man roster will look like.
That said, here's my latest swing at predicting the final 53-man roster.
Analysis: Matt Scott makes it onto the practice squad. As dire as the Bengals backup QB situation is, Scott simply doesn't look like a player worthy of a spot on the roster. AJ McCarron will start the year on PUP.
Potential Surprise: Scott rebounds and fights his way onto the roster as a third QB.
Running Backs (4)
Analysis: Rex Burkhead's injury will likely land him on I.R., if not, on the practice squad if he clears waivers. That all but secures Green-Ellis' spot on the roster, though he's not exactly looked great this preseason. IF James Wilder Jr. could step up, he could push for Green-Ellis' spot.
In the end, BJGE makes it, and Cedric Peerman vs. Wilder Jr. is the battle for the fourth RB. That battle comes down to the wire into the final preseason game. One thing to note is Peerman can;t be signed to the practice squad, but Wilder can, making it more likely Peerman makes the roster.
Potential Surprise: The Bengals cut or trade Green-Ellis prior to the second wave of cuts, giving him time to get acclimated with a team during their final preseason week.
Tight Ends (3) and Fullback (1)
Analysis: The Bengals want to use a true fullback after going with four TEs last year. Hewitt gives them the best of both world. He's been the most consistent blocking FB through camp, and he's also proven he's a capable pass-catcher, and has even lined up at TE frequently.
That means the third TE spot comes down to either Alex Smith or Orson Charles. The Bengals love having either an extra blocking TE, or an extra OT to line up at TE, but essentially work as an extra OT on the line of scrimmage (think Dennis Rolland). Smith is a superior blocker to that of Charles.
Potential Surprise: Charles beats Smith out for the third TE spot.
Wide Receivers (6)
Analysis: Cobi Hamilton had a good preseason last year, and by all indications, did really good on the practice squad. That hasn't translated onto the field this preseason, and because James Wright has a bigger special teams impact, he makes it over Cobi.
Brandon Tate makes the roster and splits time with Adam Jones as the punt returner. Tate also likely is the full-time kickoff returner.
Potential Surprise: Hamilton makes the roster.
Offensive Line (8)
Mike Pollak (C/G)
Russell Bodine (C)
Kevin Zeitler (G)
Clint Boling (G)
Marshall Newhouse (G/T)
Andrew Whitworth (T/G)
Andre Smith (T)
Trey Hopkins (G/T)
Analysis: Versatility allows the Bengals to go with just 8 lineman and still have plenty of depth at every position. None of the guys who make it are really a surprise.
Undrafted free agent guard, Trey Hopkins manages to make the roster. He turned some heads with his performance in OTAs, training camp, and has looked decent in the preseason. He also played some right tackle in college, so he can play that in an emergency.
Potential Surprise: Tanner Hawkinson or Will Svitek make the roster instead of Hopkins.
Defensive Ends (5)
Analysis: Dunlap and Hunt open the year as the starters with Gilberry and Geathers being their primary backups. Clarke is a work in progress. Dontay Moch just barely misses out on making the roster, as the Bengals like Geathers more for the veteran leadership he provides.
Potential Surprise: Geathers is cut and either Moch or Sam Montgomery makes the roster.
Analysis: This is the hardest position to project. Having Taylor Mays to play both S and LB helps the Bengals keep just 6 true backers. The final spot comes down to Sean Porter, Flowers and JK Schaffer. Flowers wins out.
Potential Surprise: Porter manages to crack the roster.
Defensive Tackles (4)
Analysis: Preferably, the Bengals would like to keep 5 DTs with Geno coming off a torn ACL, but there's no one worthy of a roster spot, leaving the Bengals with just four DTs.
Because Wallace Gilberry, Robert Geathers and even Margus Hunt will line up occasionally at DT, that essentially gives the Bengals 5-6 guys at DT.
Potential Surprise: Christo Bilukidi makes the roster.
Analysis: The top 5 are locked in. All that's left is to figure out if LaVelle Westbrooks, RJ Stanford or Victor Hampton are worthy of a sixth spot. Chris Lewis-Harris is suspended for the first 2 games, meaning he doesn't count against the roster.
Ultimately, RJ Stanford makes the roster because of his special teams impact. Hampton and Westbrooks are signed to the practice squad and the Bengals go with 6 CBs to start the season.
Potential Surprise: Stanford is cut and the Bengals go with just 5 CBs to start the season.
Analysis: Nelson and Iloka are the starters with Manning and Williams being the two primary backups. Mays gets seldom snaps here and at LB.
Potential Surprise: Undrafted free agent Isiah Lewis makes the roster and costs Mays' his spot.
Special Teams (3)
Analysis: The Bengals special teams trio was solid last year, but Nugent is in a battle for Quinn Sharp for the kicking duties. Ultimately, I see Nugent retaining his role.
Potential Surprise: Sharp makes the roster and gives the Bengals a dual punter/kicker.