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Bengals Roster Cuts 2016: Closest battles ahead of deadline

We take a look at which Bengals are on the bubble and what the tightest roster battles are heading into roster cuts.

NFL: Preseason-Indianapolis Colts at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals are frantically working to build their final roster ahead of Saturday's deadline to do so.

This is one of the busiest times of the year for coaches and front office personnel, as they try and decide which players have to be cut, while also scanning the waiver wire for other players getting cut.

For the Bengals, there aren't nearly as many players to worry about as on other teams. You could make a case that anywhere between 43-48 players have already locked up their spots on the final roster.

But what about those final 5-10 guys sitting on the bubble? We take a look at who they may be and the closest remaining roster battles.


For much of training camp and the preseason, it looked like the final linebacker spot was coming down to Marquis Flowers and Jayson DiManche. Both have shown they can be decent backups who've already spent time on the 53-man roster.

However, the Bengals already axed DiManche in the first wave of cuts. That seemingly left Flowers to win the final backer spot, but Trevor Roach is making a strong late push for it.

The second-year linebacker had 11 tackles in the final preseason game and made as strong of a case for a roster spot on Thursday night as any player on the team. It was more than enough to guarantee him a spot on the practice squad if he doesn't make the final roster.

Roach is now in a close battle with 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.

In the end, I give the edge to Flowers, mainly because he played a full season with the team and made a positive impact in 2014. Roach has only been on the roster for one game, which came last year after injuries forced him from the practice squad to play in the Wild Card loss.

Defensive Line

With the Bengals having several guys who can play both tackle and end, this essentially is a battle for the final defensive lineman spot. The players on the bubble here include Margus Hunt, DeShawn Williams and Pat Sims.

There is a decent chance all three former guys make the roster, but none of them are assured of making the cut. Sims is the likeliest to make it, followed by Williams and then Hunt.

I just think Williams has had too good of a preseason not to keep him this year. Having guys like 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.

As for the latter, Brown has had a good showing this preseason as an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State. You could argue he deserves to be the final end to make the roster over Hunt, but because the Bengals can probably sneak Brown to the practice squad, I think that's where he ends up.

Defensive Back

Versatility has been a staple throughout the Bengals roster under Marvin Lewis. Making a 53-man roster work is no easy task, but when you've got players who can play multiple spots, it makes life much easier.

At safety, Derron Smith, Shawn Williams, and George Iloka are locks and with Jimmy Wilson released that gives Clayton Fejedelem a spot, too.

At corner, we have to assume Darqueze Dennard, Chris Lewis-Harris, Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick and Josh Shaw are locks for the roster. If the Bengals keep six or even seven corners, the next two in line are Chykie Brown and Darius Hillary.

Brown continues to bounce back from a bad training camp with his last two preseason performances. Hillary has looked good at times in camp and the preseason, but Brown has passed him in the cornerback pecking order.

But keeping six corners is no guarantee. Smith can both play slot corner, so they, in theory, could be that sixth corner if needed. However, Dennard being as injury-prone as he is could force the Bengals to keep five other corners.

I think Brown makes it as the sixth corner.