When the Cincinnati Bengals announced their final 53-man roster, there weren't many surprises on it.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, however, was the fact that only six linebackers made the team and only five of them are true backers. Marquis Flowers and Jayson DiManche, who combined to play in 28 games last year, were among the players given the waived/injured designation.
Chris Carter was one of the biggest stars of the preseason, but was so as a nickel pass-rusher, not as someone who can actually drop back and read plays off the line of scrimmage.
That means Rey Maualuga, Vincent Rey, A.J. Hawk, Emmanuel Lamur, and rookie P.J. Dawson are the only true linebackers on the roster as of now. While Vontaze Burfict is expected to return to full health after offseason microfracture surgery, he's still ineligible to play for the first six games while sitting on the PUP list.
Lamur and Maualuga combining to miss 25 games over the past two years doesn't exactly raise confidence either that this position will survive for almost two months with just five guys.
Then there's the case of Hawk, a 10-year vet who was cut by the Packers this offseason after becoming the franchise leader with 1,118 tackles. In recent years, however, Hawk's play has slowly declined to the point where he was ranked 52nd out of 60 eligible ILB last year via Pro Football Focus. Can the 31-year-old actually hold up and be effective in the process?
Oh, and then there's the fact that Lamur has been dealing with a hamstring issue that kept him out of the past two preseason games. It must not be serious based on how the roster was constructed, but it's still not encouraging.
Maybe there's still a move or two left for the Bengals to make to add a body here. Just don't expect these to be the only five backers on the roster between now and whenever Burfict is able to come back.