The Cincinnati Bengals have completed training camp, as well as their first preseason game.
That 23-12 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers confirmed a lot of what we saw in training camp from various players, but it also showed us that some guys who were thought to be on the outside of the roster bubble looking in may actually be in position for a spot on the 53-man roster.
Ahead of the Bengals’ second preseason game — a Saturday clash with the Kansas City Chiefs — here is our latest projection on what the 53-man roster will look like in Week 1:
Andy Dalton, AJ McCarron
Despite a great showing by Jeff Driskel against the Bucs, he still has plenty of work to do before earning a spot on the final roster. The Bengals rarely keep three quarterbacks, though they did just that last year with Driskel.
However, there are plenty of players at other players more worthy of a roster spot and who can do more for the tema than Driskel as a third quarterback, such as defensive end Chris Smith, cornerback Keivarae Russell and offensive lineman Christian Westerman, so Driskel needs to keep playing great to beat them out for a roster spot.
Cut: Jeff Driskel
RUNNING BACK/H-BACK (5)
Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard, Cedric Peerman, Joe Mixon, Ryan Hewitt (h-back)
Tra Carson had a great showing in his preseason debut, but his chances of unseating Cedric Peerman for the fourth and final running back spot are still slim. It could happen, but he needs to continue earning his keep.
Cut: Tra Carson, Boom Williams, Jarveon Williams, Darrin Laufasa
WIDE RECEIVER (7)
A.J. Green, John Ross, Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd, Cody Core, Josh Malone, Alex Erickson
The Bengals are almost certainly keeping seven receivers, regardless of how the rest of the roster shapes out. They love the potential of Cody Core and Alex Erickson, so there’s almost no chance they get cut.
The question is, if there are injuries that force the Bengals to keep players at other positions, will they attempt to trade Core or Erickson? I would venture to guess either player could net a sixth-round pick. With that said, the seven guys are likely to stick through the season, pending injury.
Cut: Chris Brown, Kermit Whitfield, Karel Hamilton, Alonzo Russell
TIGHT END (3)
Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, C.J. Uzomah
As long as C.J. Uzomah’s ankle injury isn’t serious and no other tight ends get injured, the Bengals will only keep three guys here. The only real battle is who lands on the practice squad between Cethan Carter and Mason Schreck. At least one of them is almost certain to make it there, and it sounds like Carter is impressing more than Schreck.
Cut: Mason Schreck, Cethan Carter
OFFENSIVE LINE (9)
Tackle (2): Cedric Ogbuehi, Jake Fisher
Guard (4): Andre Smith, Clint Boling, Trey Hopkins, Christian Westerman
Center (3): Russell Bodine, T.J. Johnson, J.J. Dielman
The Bengals do here what once seemed unthinkable and cut veteran lineman Eric Winston. They’re able to do so because Trey Hopkins is making a strong push to start at right guard, which would allow Andre Smith to be a backup tackle and guard, essentially taking Winston’s spot.
This also allows the team to keep Christian Westerman, a promising guard who’s looked better than Winston in camp anyhow.
Cut: Eric Winston, Landon Lechler, Kent Perkins, Cameron Lee, Alex Redmond, Dustin Stanton
Total on offense: 26
DEFENSIVE LINE (9)
Defensive End: Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Jordan Willis, Wallace Gilberry, Chris Smith
Defensive Tackle: Geno Atkins, Andrew Billings, Ryan Glasgow, Marcus Hardison
This has suddenly become the hardest position on the roster to project. Despite Andrew Billings being expected to start at nose tackle, Pat Sims was named the starter there initially. I still think Billings wins the job, making it easier for Sims to be cut.
Chris Smith’s monstrous preseason debut pushes him onto the final roster. Smith, Wallace Gilberry and Marcus Hardison are likely battling for those final spots, though I think it could work out to where the Bengals keep all three.
Cut: Pat Sims, Brandon Thompson, David Dean, Will Clarke, Chris Smith, Ryan Brown, DeShawn Williams, Josh Tupou
Vontaze Burfict, Kevin Minter, Nick Vigil, Jordan Evans, Vincent Rey, Carl Lawson
The Bengals have an interesting battle brewing here between Jordan Evans, P.J. Dawson, Brandon Bell, Hardy Nickerson and Marquis Flowers for the final linebacker spots. It’s possible two of them are kept, but for now, I have just one making it, and the winner is Evans, a sixth-round pick in this year’s draft. Dawson’s wrist injury is not helping him.
Cut: Hardy Nickerson, Brandon Bell, P.J. Dawson, Bryson Albright, Marquis Flowers
DEFENSIVE BACKS (9)
Cornerback: *Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, William Jackson III, Darqueze Dennard, Josh Shaw, **KeiVarae Russell
Safety: George Iloka, Shawn Williams, Derron Smith, Clayton Fejedelem
KeiVarae Russell followed up his solid training camp with a good showing in his preseason debut. I don’t think there’s any question he’s on the Week 1 roster. The question remains, however, as to if he’ll remain there once Adam Jones returns from his one-game suspension. Jones won’t be included in the Week 1 roster, and for now, Russell will be. But, in this projection, he gets cut when Jones returns.
Cut: Bene Benwikere, Cedric Thompson, Tony McRae, Demetrious Cox
Placed on PUP: Brandon Wilson
Total on defense: 24
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
Kicker: Jake Elliott
Punter: Kevin Huber
Long-snapper: Clark Harris
Jake Elliott is still the slight favorite to being the primary kicker, but Randy Bullock is making a strong push to retain that job. This battle could come down to the fourth and final preseason game.
Cut: Randy Bullock
Total on special teams: 3
Last 4 in: Chris Smith, Marcus Hardison, KeiVarae Russell, Jordan Evans
First 4 out: Jeff Driskel, Pat Sims, Eric Winston, Will Clarke