Roster cuts will begin today for the Bengals, but before they do, here’s an updated look at who I believe will end up on Cincinnati’s 53-man roster on Saturday following Sunday night’s preseason loss in Jacksonville. Injury news and impressive rookie play may shake things up as cuts loom.
Quarterbacks (2): Andy Dalton, AJ McCarron.
No surprises here. Dalton will start, McCarron will be the backup and the Bengals should have one of the best quarterback units in the league.
Running backs (3): Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard, Rex Burkhead.
Injured Reserve: Cedric Peerman
The worst part of Sunday’s game was seeing Peerman go down with a broken arm. It may require surgery and will keep him out for at least a few weeks. It’s possible the Bengals keep him on the roster, but also possible he winds up on Injured Reserve. The decision on that will likely come on Saturday.
Wide receivers (6): A.J. Green, Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd, Cody Core, Alex Erickson, James Wright
On Sunday night, Erickson did enough to win himself a roster spot and I think the Bengals would be making a big mistake to cut him in hopes of him ending up on the practice squad. It’s not going to happen and he’s worthy of remaining on the roster. Erickson had two punt returns for 57 yards including a long of 39 yards. He also returned a kick 31 yards. On offense, Erickson rushed for an eight yard gain and caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from AJ McCarron. What more can he do to prove his worth? If you're keeping track, Tate returned two punts for a collective 16 yards and one kick for 25 yards on Sunday night. On offense, he was targeted once on an easy pass from McCarron and dropped the ball.
Tight ends (4): Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, C.J. Uzomah, Ryan Hewitt (H-back)
I don’t expect any surprises here. This group will be the same as last year’s and despite Eifert targeting a Week 4-6 return, I don’t believe the Bengals will put him on the regular-season PUP list.
Offensive linemen (9): Andrew Whitworth, Cedric Ogbuehi, Eric Winston, Jake Fisher, Clint Boling, Kevin Zeitler, Russell Bodine, T.J. Johnson, Christian Westerman
Eric Winston did well enough on Sunday night and the hope is still that Ogbuehi and Fisher make it back by Week 1. It’s possible Trey Hopkins could find a spot on the roster, but at whose expense would that come? Or, could the Bengals opt to keep 10 offensive lineman on the roster? That would be two more than they started with on last year’s 53-man roster.
Defensive linemen (9): Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, DeShawn Williams, Will Clarke, Geno Atkins, Domata Peko, Pat Sims, Marcus Hardison, Margus Hunt
PUP: Brandon Thompson
IR: Andrew Billings
Maybe the Bengals will try to add a player this week after Marvin Lewis clearly wasn’t happy with Margus Hunt’s performance on Sunday. Still, there’s not a better option to be on the 53-man roster over him.
Linebackers (7): Vincent Rey, Rey Maualuga, Karlos Dansby, Nick Vigil, P.J. Dawson, Marquis Flowers, Trevor Roach
Suspended: Vontaze Burfict
This position has remained the same in each of my roster projections, but now I’m adding in another player, Trevor Roach. Once Week 4 rolls around, it seems, Flowers or Roach, whichever is the weakest link, will be cut to make room for Burfict to return to the roster from suspension.
Defensive backs (10): Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, Josh Shaw, Chris Lewis-Harris, Chykie Brown, George Iloka, Shawn Williams, Derron Smith, Clayton Fejedelem
IR: William Jackson III
The last two weeks have seen Brown improving. He saw playing time in the first quarter with the starters on Sunday and the Bengals seem to be preparing to roll with him into the regular season. He did struggle in training camp, but has had a few impressive moments during the preseason to help his stock. This is another position where the Bengals could take a look around the league as cuts are made.
Specialists (3): Mike Nugent, Clark Harris, Kevin Huber.
The specialist group never seemed likely to change this offseason and the team will continue on with the trio of Nugent, Harris and Huber. At least Nugent didn’t miss any field goals on Sunday night.