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Jason Marcum's Bengals 53-man training camp roster prediction

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Barely one week into training camp, the latest 53-man roster prediction for the 2015 Bengals doesn't look too different from our pre-camp projections. But, there are some changes.

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Nearly one week into Bengals training camp, it's time for another stab at what the Bengals' final 53-man roster will look like in 2015.

QUARTERBACK (2)Andy Dalton, AJ McCarron

With AJ McCarron's poor performance in training camp thus far, I'm tempted to put Josh Johnson in here, but ultimately settle with only McCarron at backup due to Andy Dalton's durability. Johnson already has one season of backing up Dalton under his belt (2013), so it wouldn't be a big surprise to see him do it again in 2015.

Still, McCarron had a great showing in OTAs, which really impressed the coaches, so I won't make a change here because of a slow start in camp.

RUNNING BACK/H-BACK (5): Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard, Cedric Peerman, Rex Burkhead, Ryan Hewitt (H-back)

As of now, it looks as though RB is locked up as far as the 53-man roster goes. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard occupy most of the carries with Rex Burkhead getting run at both RB and WR. Cedric Peerman is the veteran special-teams ace that Cincinnati has a couple of every year.

There is, however, a lot of competition here for spots on the practice squad between James Wilder Jr. and Terrell Watson. In the end, both Wilder and Watson should make it onto the practice squad, but don't be surprised if Wilder gets signed to someone else's 53-man roster at some point this year. He's too talented not to be.

WIDE RECEIVER (6): A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon Tate, Mario Alford, Denarius Moore

With Cobi Hamilton (waived) and James Wright (I.R.) out of the picture, the final spots at WR come down to Brandon Tate, Denarius Moore, Greg Little, seventh-round pick Mario Alford, and undrafted free agent Jake Kumerow.

Moore and Little are at a slight disadvantage because they've yet to show they can be solid contributors on special teams in their careers to this point, though they have been getting work as gunners in camp. That's the kind of thing a 4th/5th WR needs to do. Ultimately, Moore wins out because he's a better overall WR.

Alford and Tate also manage to grab spots due to their impact on special teams while also knowing the offense in case they need to play there. Alford has been getting a lot of run at returner, but has also impressed as a pass-catcher, most notably with his 4.3 speed to beat DBs deep, but has also displayed nice hands.

Kumerow has also impressed in camp to this point, but I'm waiting to see what he does in preseason games before projecting him onto the final roster. Regardless, he should get a spot on the practice squad.

TIGHT END (3): Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, C.J. Uzomah

The only question here is if Jake Murphy is able to make it as a fourth TE. He made a good impression in OTAs and early on in camp while also making few mistakes. With Tyler Kroft and C.J. Uzomah both being rookies, Murphy could end up the No. 2 TE to open the year.

Ultimately, Kroft and Uzomah should prove worthy enough to send Murphy to the practice squad and have the Bengals open the year with just three TEs.

OFFENSIVE LINEMAN (8):
Tackle (4)*: Andrew Whitworth, Andre Smith, Jake Fisher, Eric Winston
Guard (2): Kevin Zeitler, Clint Boling
Center (2): Russell Bodine, Trey Hopkins*

There have been few surprises along the offensive line through one week of training camp, and the only change I made was taking out T.J. Johnson and replacing him with Trey Hopkins. Originally, I had Johnson in because of his ability to play both OG and OC. However, I believe Hopkins is the better offensive lineman overall, and he too is getting reps at center. To me, it's another sign the Bengals want Hopkins to make the final roster. He was set to make it last year over Johnson before a knee injury in the third preseason game sent him to I.R. for his rookie season.

At OT, Eric Winston is in to be insurance behind Andre Smith and Andrew Whitworth while also helping mentor rookies Jake Fisher and Cedric Ogbuehi. With Ogbuehi opening the year on PUP, that's one less spot they have to worry about and it helps Winston keep his spot.

Third-year man Tanner Hawkinson and undrafted free agent Chris Jasperse are looking at the practice squad. Having Ogbuehi late in the year and Whit able to play OG also helps lead to Cincinnati keeping just two OGs.

*Cedric Ogbuehi opens the season on the PUP list and doesn't count toward the 53-man roster for first six games. Once he's brought up, Hopkins is waived and signed to the practice squad to make room.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)
Defensive End: Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Wallace Gilberry, Will Clarke, Margus Hunt
Defensive Tackle: Geno Atkins, Domata Peko, Brandon Thompson, Pat Sims, Marcus Hardison

I've gone back and forth on whether or not Hunt makes the final roster as a fifth DE, or if the Bengals will waive him and keep just four. The Bengals could keep just four DEs with Marcus Hardison doubling as a DT and DE. That could help lead to Hunt being waived during final roster cuts with Will Clarke passing him on the depth chart.

Clarke simply deserves the final DE spot more than Hunt, who is already behind the 8-ball after his offseason back injury. Still, I'll put Hunt in for now, but if he doesn't show something in the regular season, he could be the man who's cut to make room for Cedric Ogbuehi or Vontaze Burfict when they are activated to the 53-man roster.

At DT, the final spots come down to Pat Sims and Devon Still which Sims will likely win. This, despite Still having a strong showing in camp thus far that's even earned him first-team reps. Sam Montgomery is the only DL likely to be signed to the practice squad, but DeShawn Williams could be signed as well. He's occasionally flashed in camp, but Montgomery has more experience and could end up helping sooner.

LINEBACKER (6): Rey Maualuga, Emmanuel Lamur, A.J. Hawk, P.J. Dawson, Vincent Rey, Marquis Flowers*

With Vontaze Burfict opening the year on PUP, the Bengals will look to keep six LB. Emmanuel Lamur, Rey Maualuga and Vinny Rey are the top three and occupy most of the snaps with A.J. Hawk and third-round rookie P.J. Dawson also getting significant snaps.

Nico Johnson played well in limited snaps last year after being signed from the Chiefs practice squad, but Marquis Flowers edges him out for the final LB spot. He's more versatile and plays all three LB spots, whereas Johnson is limited to MLB. Johnson should end up on the practice squad.

*Vontaze Burfict opens season on PUP and doesn't count toward the 53-man roster for first six games. Once Burfict is called up, Flowers is waived and signed to the practice squad.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (10)
Cornerbacks: Leon Hall, Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, Josh Shaw, Chris Lewis-Harris
Safety: Reggie Nelson, George Iloka, Shawn Williams, Derron Smith

At CB, the top five spots are locked in , including fourth-round pick Josh Shaw as the No. 5 CB. Shaw has been impressive in camp thus far and may even be active on game days as a special-teams gunner.

That leaves Chris Lewis-Harris, Troy Hill and Brandon Ghee fighting for the final CB spot, which Lewis-Harris should win, forcing Hill onto to the practice squad.

Sixth-round rookie Derron Smith should beat out Erick Dargan and Shiloh Keo for the final S spot.

SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
Placekicker: Mike Nugent
Punter: Kevin Huber
Long-snapper: Clark Harris

There's still no real competition at any specialist spot. The only question is if undrafted free agent kicker Tom Obarski makes the practice squad to give the Bengals a little security in the event that Mike Nugent gets hurt.

Last 4 In:

Margus Hunt

Denarius Moore

Marquis Flowers

Chris Lewis-Harris

First 4 Out

Greg Little

Jake Murphy

Troy Hill

Jayson DiManche

PUP (Doesn't count against 53-man roster)

Vontaze Burfict

Cedric Ogbuehi

Practice Squad

Tanner Hawkinson

Chris Jasperse

T.J. Johnson

Nico Johnson

Jake Murphy

Tevin Reese

Jake Kumerow

James Wilder Jr.

Sam Montgomery

Troy Hill

I.R.

James Wright