The final week of preseason is upon us. Real honest to goodness football is just around the corner. But before we can get to that, we have this week to deal with. This is the last hurrah for fringe players to make their case for a spot on the 53-man roster, or at least a practice squad spot. The truth is the Bengals' front office probably already knows who about 50 of these guys are. This week, the guys to watch are those who actually have a real chance – no matter how slim – to crack the 53.
1) Chris Carter
There’s no two ways about it. This guy has been absolutely ballin’ this preseason. He has been the most disruptive pass rusher not named Geno Atkins or Carlos Dunlap. For a team that struggled to get to the QB last year, I think the Bengals' front office would have a hard time sending this guy packing. The Bengals may have finally found the guy they wanted Dontay Moch to be. The release of Nico Johnson, a guy I thought would almost certainly make the team, leads me to believe there may just be a spot for Mr. Carter.
Chris Carter continues to impress for Bengals
If Chris Carter keeps this up, he'll not only make the final roster, but could see significant snaps this year.
Bengals Chris Carter making an argument for the 53-man roster
"He's done a good job of trying to earn an opportunity as an outside rusher, and on some of the substituted defenses," said Lewis during Monday's press conference. "He has the right background to do that, and he did a nice job for us on special teams when we added him last season."
2) DeShawn Williams
I promise I'm not a broken record, but for a team that struggled to get to the QB last year, it would only make sense to have this guy on the roster. A lot of people are thinking he will get squeezed out due to the numbers game at DT. The consensus seems to be that we will roll with Atkins, Peko, Hardison, and Sims or Still. However, with Hardison able to play either inside or outside, Margus Hunt’s job could be on the line, opening a spot for Williams.
3) Margus Hunt
Like I said above, I am in the school of thought that Hunt’s job may be on the line. He hasn’t shown much in his career up to this point, and hasn’t exactly changed my mind this preseason. Despite his physical gifts, it just doesn’t seem like NFL football is for him.
4) Devon Still
Rookie DeShawn Williams generating buzz during training camp
Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther compared undrafted college free agent DeShawn Williams to Geno Atkins, in stature and attributes. Williams, facing significant competition on the defensive line, could be a strong candidate for the practice squad.
Assessing Devon Still's Bid to Make the Final Roster
Devon Still has been given the benefit of the doubt for the last few years while working through his daughter's widely reported fight against cancer. Now that things seem to be stable in his personal life, can he reward the Bengals for their faith and patience?
As great of a story as Devon Still has been off-the-field, he hasn't done much on the field to warrant his inclusion on the 53-man roster. He's been outperformed by every other DT battling for that last spot. Even if the Bengals keep five DTs (and Hardison as a flex line player) as I have suggested, Still shouldn’t be in that group. He will have to really be impressive tomorrow to change my mind. Even then, I don't know if he can do enough. Luckily for him, I don't actually have a say.
5) Jake Kumerow
After impressing in OTAs, Kumerow has been relatively quiet. He has made a few nice plays, but nothing that has leapt out and said "THIS GUY IS A SUNDAY NFL PLAYER." That may change in the future, but he would have to beat out Mario Alford or Brandon Tate for the last receiver spot. On top of that, it’s not even a guarantee that the Bengals keep six receivers with how we have seen Rex Burkhead used. It’s obvious that the Bengals want to incorporate him into the offense more, but there won't be much room in the backfield for him unless there’s an injury.