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Bengals Roster: 5 positions Bengals should consider upgrading before Week 1

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With two players on the current 53-man roster about to be shelved, here’s who the Bengals could add to the team and the positions at which they’ll be looking for players to contribute.

NFL: Preseason-Cincinnati Bengals at Jacksonville Jaguars Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

With the cut down to 53 behind us, there are still plenty of roster moves the Bengals could make leading up to the Week 1 season opener against the New York Jets. William Jackson III and Cedric Peerman are expected to be placed on Injured Reserve, which will pave way for two additional players to be signed to the Bengals’ roster.

Here are a few positions that we may see the Bengals looking to add a player at, along with some names the team could be targeting.

Defensive Tackle

This is the position most likely to see a player added to, as Marvin Lewis himself has said it will be a point of interest for the team. “It's obviously a shame when a young guy has to go through that two years in a row,” Marvin Lewis said after Saturday’s roster cuts, referring to Marcus Hardison who was placed on Injured Reserve due to a shoulder injury. “It's disappointing for him and for us as a team. It just kind of forces us to focus and possibly look for adding some kind of replacement at some point here”.

That may be easier said than done, because Hardison was having a wonderful preseason prior to his injury in Jacksonville, just as he was in the 2015 preseason before he suffered a knee injury that derailed his rookie season, too.

Players the Bengals could target include defensive tackle David Dean or defensive end Ryan Brown, both of whom were waived in the cuts to 53. If the team were to look elsewhere for an addition then defensive tackle Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton would be a potential fit. Knighton was released by the Patriots on August 29th, but has had a successful career so far for multiple NFL teams.

Cornerback

Darius Hillary and Tony McRae were both cut in the trim down to 53 players this weekend and are candidates for main roster promotion if they clear waivers. Another intriguing option, and one I would love to see the Bengals act on, would be going after former New York Jets corner and first round pick Dee Milliner. Milliner was taken ninth overall in the 2013 NFL Draft and just never caught on with the Jets. However, with the Bengals love of reclamation projects, particularly with first rounder cornerbacks, it’s a move that makes sense for the team. The only question with the Milliner situation would be what to do with him if Jackson is brought back this year as the team’s designated player to return from IR.

Tight End

Tyler Eifert is still injured and while Tyler Kroft is currently expected back for Week 1, it remains to be seen. That leaves C.J. Uzomah as the only active and healthy tight end on the roster. The most likely case if this were to be a position of interest is to elevate the recently waived Matt Lengel while Tyler Eifert continues to recover from his ankle injury. Outside names could include the recently released New York Jets tight end, Jace Amaro. The team also has the versatile Jake Fisher on the roster who could act as a blocking tight end in situations, but after his injury in Detroit that option is off the table for now. The Bengals must feel confident that Kroft will be ready for Week 1.

Offensive Line

Right now, the team is only carrying nine offensive lineman. With the injuries to Fisher and Ogbuehi in recent weeks, that number seems a little low to me. I would make the case that one of the top priorities for the team would be to add Trey Hopkins back to the roster once he clears waivers. Hopkins is a strong guy who had a lot of supporters inside the building but couldn’t quite crack the 53-man roster this year. I would be shocked if the team goes into week 1 with only nine lineman on the roster and eight of them healthy (assuming Ogbuehi is ready for Week 1 and Fisher is not). That said, the team could have a lot of confidence in the guys they have and not be afraid of additional injuries. However, I’d rather be safe and just add Hopkins who can contribute if called upon. Some potential outside names here could be recent Seahawks cut Jahri Evans or waived Titan Jeremiah Poutasi.

Running Back

Cedric Peerman has been a roster mainstay for years with his stellar special teams contributions for the Bengals. Currently injured but as of now, still on the roster, the three healthy running backs are Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard and Rex Burkhead. The team could likely add another back, but it’s only likely they’ll keep a back who can contribute on special teams. For this reason, I find it unlikely that Tra Carson or Bronson Hill are brought up, although I do believe one of them will land on the Bengals’ practice squad. It’s possible an outside move could be made to acquire former Bengals James Wilder Jr. or Dan Boom Herron, who the Bills just cut, to fill that type of role. They could provide help on special teams, though, they’re certainly far from being Pro Bowlers, like Peerman.