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What we learned from Bengals’ roster cuts

After the final game of the preseason, the Bengals trimmed their roster down to 53 players. Here’s what we learned in the process.

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Did you even watch the final Bengals preseason game of the year? Be honest. If you did, you are a serious Bengals fan, and for that I commend you. If you did not, it’s alright. I have watched the game several times, so I can tell you everything you need to know.

The fourth preseason game was the final game before Marvin Lewis and the Bengals trimmed about 30 players from the roster. For many players, this was their last chance to earn a roster spot. For others, it was an audition for other teams. But most of the players on the field had some question mark surround them.

The starters by and large sat out of this game and most of the players on the field last Thursday are destined to have a limited role on the team, or are now gone. Because the final cuts and practice squad signings were released this weekend, we did not learn much from the game itself. What we learned about the Bengals came from their weekend cuts. Players who were on the bubble found out if they were on the outside or inside and now the Bengals are moving forward with 53 guys on the roster and 10 on the practice squad, two who are new additions to the team.

After evaluating the final cuts, here’s what we learned about the Bengals heading into the first week of the 2017 NFL season...

Jake Elliott lost his roster spot during the final preseason game

Kicker Jake Elliott was one of the many rookies released this weekend. It was unfortunate to see a fifth-round pick fail to make the roster, but his career in Cincinnati isn’t over since he did join the practice squad.

Elliott had ample opportunity to prove himself, but he missed three field goal attempts in four games (even though his last attempt was a low-percentage kick and should not weigh against him too seriously). His opponent in the kicking competition, Randy Bullock, only missed one field goal in the preseason, and that was late in the fourth quarter of the final game.

In a game where the coaches were evaluating in a way that was both intentional and situational, the kickers were the exception. In the last game, the kickers took turns kicking in an order that would not be disrupted for any reason (just as they did all preseason). They each had their chances, but Bullock fared slightly better. Marvin Lewis said that if the competition was close, Elliott would be the Bengals’ kicker. But between Elliott’s poor training camp and the crucial misses during the preseason, it was obvious Bullock won the job.


Were the Bengals right to choose Bullock over Elliott?

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Wallace Gilberry and Will Clarke had all the opportunity they needed

The Bengals are loyal to their veterans, which can be a great way to go. However, the Bengals take it too far at times and hold on to veterans who are well past their primes. Lewis appeared to consider going this route with two defensive linemen, Wallace Gilberry and Will Clarke. The more senior of the two, Gilberry, has played on the Bengals for parts of the last five seasons. He started the last preseason game, but recorded no stats. Will Clarke was able to tally one assisted tackle, but it was in the fourth quarter against a Colts lineup that would likely suffer a similar fate: release. Both players had the snap count to be able to make some noise, but they fell silent.

With the emergence of young players like Andrew Billings, Jordan Willis, Chris Smith, Ryan Glasgow, and others, there is no more room on the roster for dead weight. The Bengals probably wanted Gilberry and Clarke to remain on the roster, but they were unable to prove their value to an increasingly talented defense. With that being the case, both were shown the door. 2015 third round pick P.J. Dawson falls into a similar category of someone who just couldn’t prove he belonged on an NFL roster. As of now, he’s out of a job completely.

The Bengals sacrificed running backs for other positions

The Bengals only kept three running backs on the roster, which is a break from the norm.

Jarveon Williams had a monster game on Thursday, but it wasn’t enough to save his roster spot. Cedric Peerman and Tra Carson are both on Injured Reserve, which is really what solidified the decision to go light at the position. Jeremy Hill and Joe Mixon will see a large share of opportunities as featured backs, while Giovani Bernard will come in on passing downs.

If there are any injuries, the Bengals will have to call on Jarveon Williams or sign a free agent. This arrangement could potentially backfire. Why did the Bengals do this? The team had three tight ends and six wide receivers last season. This year, each of this position groups have an extra player. Since the Bengals wanted to go heavy at receiver and oped to go heavy at tight end due to an injury to C.J. Uzomah, a position had to be sacrificed.

There were so many talented players to try to squeeze into the roster and several more that are now on the practice squad. The Bengals had to find room for them somewhere, and it was the running back group that took a hit.

This running back group could be one of the best in the NFL, but cross your fingers for no injuries.