Finally, the preseason has mercifully come to an end.
This was about as ugly of a game as you could imagine, as is typically the case in the final week of the preseason. It’s also one final shot at making the 53-man roster for many players.
Many of those bubble guys were among this week’s winners and losers for the Bengals following their 13-10 loss to the Colts. Let’s take a look.
This game should be simply remembered as the Trevor Roach show. The second-year linebacker was in on just about every tackle in the first half. He was all over the field and looked like best player in this game.
To be fair, it was mostly just second, third and fourth-string players playing, but it was still an impressive showing by Roach. It was more than enough to guarantee him a spot on the practice squad if he doesn't make the final roster.
Roach is battling Marquis Flowers for the sixth linebacker spot, but it's possible the Bengals keep seven backers, which means both would make it. It's also possible Roach is claimed by another team if he is waived. He's definitely worthy of being on someone's 53-man roster.
As good as Roach was, DeShawn Williams was almost as impressive with his outing. For the second straight week, Williams was a force on the defensive line as he continues to boost his case for a 53-man roster berth. He was constantly disrupting run plays or pressuring the passer, almost to the point he looked Geno-esque.
Williams is fighting for one of the final defensive tackle spots, which is going to be a close call with how that is made. Having guys like Margus Hunt and Marcus Hardison double as ends and tackles makes it easier to cut a guy like Williams, but that would be a travesty with how he's playing.
If anything, Williams should make the roster over Hunt if it comes down to it.
With the Bengals having so much competition at wide receiver, we've not seen Alonzo Russell do much of anything in the preseason. He showed some flashes in training camp, but not enough to think he's a serious contender for a spot on the practice squad.
That's why Russell needed to have a big game in his final preseason effort, which he did. He caught what appeared to be the game-winning touchdown pass in the game's final minutes. It came as Russell caught a 3rd-and-9 pass just beyond the first-down marker, made a man miss and took it the rest of the way for the score. Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out to be the game-winning score as the Colts rallied from behind to win.
But, this may have been the performance Russell needed to win a spot on the practice squad.
The Bengals are guaranteed to keep at least one wide receiver on the practice squad, and they could keep two which is good news for Russell and Jake Kumerow. Both had big nights against the Colts, though it was Kumerow who finished as the Bengals' leading receiver with 60 yards on three catches.
A hamstring injury cost Kumerow much of training camp and the preseason, but he bounced back with a good final performance. It probably isn’t enough for a 53-man roster spot, but it should help him earn a practice squad spot.
Whenever you get as much playing time as Keith Wenning got this night, it should be a great chance to generate more film to build an NFL resume. Instead, Wenning spent the better part of this game on his butt as he was brutalized by the Colts' defense, thanks in large part to another awful performance by the backup Bengals offensive lineman.
Wenning was a long-shot just to make the practice squad, but now he may be left without a job and nothing more than a beaten body for his troubles.
The last thing the Bengals could afford to lose was another cornerback. Unfortunately, that's what happened with Chris Lewis-Harris, who suffered a stinger and was forced from the game.
If this is only a stinger, it's hard to see him missing Week 1 at New York, but these can last a few weeks, depending on the severity. With William Jackson III likely heading to I.R. and Darqueze Dennard iffy for Week 1, it's possible Lewis-Harris would open the year as the No. 4 corner in New York.
If he's injured, that puts his roster spot in jeopardy as the Bengals just can't afford to keep an injured corner on the roster if he's going to miss the first couple of games.