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Bengals roster bubble players missing practice

Along with guys like Tez and Rey, some Bengals firmly on the roster bubble continue to miss practice as their 53-man roster hopes dwindle.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Training Camp The Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK

The Bengals are getting healthier ahead of their preseason clash with the Bills, but some notable players are still sidelined.

Among them are linebacker Vontaze Burfict, wide receiver Cody Core, center T.J. Johnson, safety Tyrice Beverette, cornerback Davontae Harris, cornerback Sojourn Shelton and center Corey Helms.

Of that group, the biggest implications are actually with Core, Harris and Johnson, three players firmly on the roster bubble that continue to trend toward the wrong side of it.

Core was a sixth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft who had a promising rookie year, but since then, he’s rarely gotten on the field as guys like Alex Erickson, Josh Malone and Auden Tate have passed him on the depth chart. As of now, his best chance of remaining in Cincinnati is on the practice squad.

Johnson, who’s been a regular on the 53-man roster as a backup guard and center in recent years, is also on the roster bubble. It appears his role is being taken by Trey Hopkins, who is battling for the starting right guard spot but also played center in last week’s win at Dallas. He actually got reps at center before Johnson did.

As for Harris, he was a fifth-round pick in this year’s NFL Draft, but he suffered a knee injury in Saturday’s win over Dallas and has been sidelined ever since. He now looks unlikely to make the 53-man roster as Darius Phillips and KeiVarae Russell have seemingly moved ahead of him.

It remains unclear as to how serious the ankle injuries for Burfict and Rey are, as they’ve missed over a week of practice now. Rey was hurt in the first preseason game, while Burfict was injured in a Monday practice prior to facing the Cowboys.

It’s good to see defensive tackle Chris Baker is back practicing. He missed Wednesday with an unknown issue, though it may have been a veteran’s rest day for him. He’s competing with rookie Andrew Brown for the final defensive tackle spot.

All told, the Bengals are as healthy as you can ask for a team entering Week 3 of the preseason. Of all the guys sitting out, none of them are Week 1 starters since Burfict is suspended for the first four games of the year. Rey is a key reserve and special teams player, but if that’s the best guy you’ve got sitting out, you’re doing really well at this time of the year.

And frankly, most of those guys sitting out were already trending toward being cut. Even Baker isn’t a lock to make the 53-man roster.