The Cincinnati Bengals aren't done making roster moves. Not long after final cuts and the practice squad were announced, the team made additional moves on Sunday as they placed William Jackson III and Cedric Peerman on Injured Reserve while also signing cornerback Chykie Brown and guard Trey Hopkins, both of whom were released yesterday by the team.
The injured duo made the initial 53-man roster to remain eligible to return later this season. The IR designation to return decision used to need to be determined when the roster was made, but now the designation to return can be used on a player when he is ready to return, as long as he initially made the team’s roster.
After being waived during final roster cuts, it was surprising to see Hopkins not among the 10-man practice squad, but now it appears the plan all along was for him to re-join the final roster.
Now entering his third year with the Bengals, Hopkins has never made the final roster after coming close in each of his first two tries. After being on the verge of making it in 2014 as an undrafted free agent out of Texas, Hopkins went down with a season-ending knee injury in the third preseason game.
In 2015, Hopkins came close to making the final roster as a backup guard, but that nod ultimately went to T.J. Johnson, who also doubled as the backup center. Hopkins spent last season on the practice squad and is now on a 53-man NFL roster for the first time.
As for Brown, he endured an awful start in training camp and the first preseason game, but rebounded nicely to perform well in the final three games. That had him in line to make the final roster as the sixth corner, but with the Bengals needing to keep Peerman and Jackson for a day, Brown was cut as a vested veteran, meaning the Bengals know they could re-sign him the very next day.
Brown was brought back to help replace Jackson, who was the 24th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. The former Houston Cougars cornerback was regarded as one of the two or three best cornerback prospects in this draft, not to mention a guy who could end up being the best corner out of this draft. Unfortunately, an early training camp injury has caused a setback for the rookie who will now need to spend months recovering from a torn pectoral muscle.
Last season, Jackson led the NCAA and set a Cougars record for pass breakups with 23. He also added five interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. Jackson was the kind of long, athletic and physical defender who could become a complete NFL corner, something very hard to come by even in today's pass-happy NFL.
Though Jackson was Cincinnati's first pick, he was facing a tough battle just to earn playing time in a loaded Bengals secondary. While no one expected him to be a starter, getting reps on special teams and watching from the bench as a rookie would be key to his long-term development.
As for Peerman, the veteran running back suffered a forearm fracture on Aug. 28 at Jacksonville in the third preseason game. He was going to make the roster as a fourth back, though his biggest impact was on special teams for the coverage units.
The Bengals will now have to wait and see who they want to use their lone I.R. return designation on. They can use it on Jackson or Peerman, but not both.