The Bengals have wrapped up training camp following their first preseason game and are now looking ahead to their second preseason game in which they’ll take on the Lions Thursday night in Detroit. While there's still a little less than three weeks until final cuts are made, we're beginning to see indications of what Cincinnati's 53-man squad will look like.
Be sure to check out our latest 53-man roster prediction. Now, it's time for a more in-depth look at the guys sitting firmly on the roster bubble heading into Week 2 of the preseason.
Barring injury, the roster is pretty much set at quarterback. Andy Dalton and AJ McCarron will be the two lone quarterbacks, leaving Joe Licata and Keith Wenning to fight for a spot on the practice squad.
There's no one on the roster bubble at running back either. Tra Carson and Bronson Hill are merely fighting for a practice squad spot. Of note, Rex Burkhead sat out in the preseason opener, but his injury is minor and he should play on Thursday; he practiced on Monday.
Tight end looks pretty set in stone, though John Peters and Matt Lengel have an outside chance at making the roster if both Tyler Eifert and Tyler Kroft miss Week 1. These injuries have also taken C.J. Uzomah off the bubble completely.
Jeff Luc showed flashes of being an effective fullback in the preseason opener, but he'll need to continue that just to get to within reach of the bubble.
Alex Erickson's breakout game vs Minnesota put him on the right side of the bubble for the time being, though barely. Mario Alford, James Wright and Jake Kumerow are barely on the outside looking in, assuming the Bengals keep just six receivers. Though, Alford’s injury isn’t helping his cause. Though, Wright is battling back from knee surgeries that have bounced him on and off-the-field in practice and Kumerow suffered a hamstring strain that kept him off-the-field for about two weeks, too. He should be fully back now though.
All four of those guys are right on the cusp of making the final roster, so it won't be surprising to see any of them make it or end up on the practice squad. I refuse to even put Brandon Tate on the roster bubble with as much as the coaches seem to want to keep him.
The offensive line has only T.J. Johnson and Trey Hopkins on the roster bubble for now. Both could make it as backup guards/centers, though Johnson is the one on the right side of the bubble.
The defensive line took a big turn last week with Andrew Billings' knee injury and Margus Hunt's no-show performance. Billings is bound to end up on Injured Reserve, which may secure Hunt's and/or Pat Sims' spots on the roster.
Sims and Billings are similar players so the Bengals probably didn’t need both of them, so Billings' injury will likely keep Sims on the roster.
This also affects DeShawn Williams, who was firmly on the outside look him prior to Billings' injury. Now, he’s much more likely to make the 53-man roster.
As for Hunt, as bad as he was, he's still barely on the right side of the bubble with so little depth here. On the other hand, Will Clarke's performance in training camp and the preseason all but locked up his spot and took himself off the bubble.
One other name to mention is undrafted free agent Ryan Brown. He did well Friday night and already looks like he may be worth keeping over Hunt. Still, Brown is entrenched on the wrong side of the roster bubble unless he can keep performing well and Hunt continues to struggle.
Linebacker is pretty much set outside of who gets the final spot. I have Marquis Flowers barely making it, but he, Jayson DiManche and Trevor Roach are firmly on the bubble.
The only cornerback on the bubble is Darius Hillary. The Bengals may keep just five corners, but Hillary is vying for a sixth spot if there is one.
And finally, the final safety spot has Clayton Fejedelem and Jimmy Wilson on the bubble. I give the edge to Wilson since he can play corner too and has veteran experience.
Overall, I have about 47 spots essentially set with the next six spots up for grabs that will likely change over the next three weeks.
Right side of the bubble
OL T.J. Johnson
WR Alex Erickson
DT Pat Sims
DE Margus Hunt
LB Marquis Flowers
S/CB Jimmy Wilson
DT DeShawn Williams
Wrong side of the bubble
WR Jake Kumerow
WR Mario Alford
WR James Wright
OL Trey Hopkins
FB Jeff Luc
DE Ryan Brown
LB Trevor Roach
LB Jayson DiManche
CB Darius Hillary
S Clayton Fejedelem