We take a look at the roster battles on the offensive line and give you an update at each position.
Projected depth chart: 1a) Andrew Whitworth 1b) Andre Smith 2a) Jake Fisher 2b) Cedric Ogbuehi (starting on PUP) 3) Eric Winston
Projected cuts: Tanner Hawkinson*, Matthew O'Donnell
Practice Squad: Dan France
Andrew Whitworth is an All-Pro left tackle who is unlikely to be going anywhere anytime soon. Andre Smith is a former sixth overall pick who, despite consistency and discipline issues, is unlikely to be ousted from his positions. Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi seem to be dealing with injury issues before ever playing a snap in the NFL, but the first and second picks for the Bengals in the 2015 are as unlikely as Whitworth and Smith to find difficulty making the final roster. At this point, the only tackle left on the roster with any experience on the team is Eric Winston, and you know how the Bengals love experience with the team.
There is a bit of a grey area with Tanner Hawkinson's roster spot. There is a good chance that Cedric Ogbuehi will spend much of the 2015 season on the PUP list, freeing up an offensive lineman spot for the third year tackle. However, it is unlikely that Hawkinson will make the crowded roster if Ogbuehi recovers quickly.
Updated Bengals Position Battles: QB, WR, RB, TE
With the first preseason game of the season now behind us, we are beginning to see a much clearer picture of which players are winning and losing battles for spots on the final 53 man roster. Here's a look at how these battles are shaping up on the offense.
That leaves undrafted veterans Matthew O'Donnell and Dan France fighting for a chance to make the team. The problem is that O'Donnell was originally with the Bengals in the 2011 offseason/preseason. Therefore, he is no longer eligible for the practice squad, and hasn't shown the Bengals any reason for him to beat Winston for the final roster spot. Dan France is still eligible for the practice squad, a spot that he occupied last season. You do the math.
Projected depth chart: 1a) Kevin Zeitler 1b) Clint Boling 2) Trey Hopkins
Projected cuts: Chris Jasperse
With so much versatile talent available to the team, it is unlikely that the Bengals will keep many true guards. Kevin Zeitler is one of the best young guards in the NFL, and Clint Boling recently received a sizable contract extension with the team. Throw in two year veteran Trey Hopkins for insurance, and there's not much room for the team to keep more guards that are unlikely to contribute at other positions.
Granted, Jasperse has been tested at Center, but other players have had either more success or more experience at the position, so his chances of making the final roster are slim. However, it is possible that Jasperse could be a surprise signing to the practice squad after being waived later in the preseason, but don't hold your breath.
Projected depth chart: 1) Russell Bodine 2) T.J. Johnson
Projected cuts: Jake Smith
Russell Bodine has been criticized for the inability to snap the ball consistently, as well as various issues with blocking technique and generally looking lost last season. That said, Bodine is the only center on the roster with any starting experience for the Bengals, so don't expect him to lose his starting job before the season starts. Behind Bodine, T.J. Johnson and Jake Smith have been sharing backup center duties, with Johnson being the only one to receive snaps against the Giants. Johnson looked like he belonged at the position while he was in, and Smith never really had an opportunity to fight for the spot. If Bodine continues to struggle, don't be too surprised to see Johnson potentially stealing the starting spot, but right now this depth chart is likely to be how things turn out.