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Final Bengals 53-man roster and practice squad projection

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The Bengals have wrapped up the preseason, so it’s time for one final 53-man roster projection.

NFL: Chicago Bears at Cincinnati Bengals David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, the preseason is over, and the regular season is upon us.

But before the first day of the new season, all 32 teams must trim their rosters down to 53 men. That means we’re going to see many players getting handed a pink slip during the new few days.

That includes many Bengals, and the coaches still have some very challenging decisions to make. We’ll attempt to make those calls with a final projection of the Bengals’ 53-man roster.

OFFENSE

QUARTERBACK (2)

Andy Dalton, Jeff Driskel

There was no question Jeff Driskel was the better quarterback in the preseason games, but his inconsistencies in practice, as well as the prior connection between Bill Lazor and Matt Barkley, had Barkley looking like the backup entering Week 1.

However, Barkley suffered a knee injury in the first quarter vs. the Colts, and that allowed Driskel to shine in his absence. The injury should be the death knell for Barkley’s roster hopes in Cincinnati.

Cut: Logan Woodside, Matt Barkley (2)

RUNNING BACK/H-BACK (5)

Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Brian Hill, Tra Carson, Ryan Hewitt (h-back)

Tra Carson has left no doubt that he’s the No. 3 back this preseason. He was clearly the best back not named Joe or Gio, so his spot has been secured. The real battle was for those final spots, as well as who will make the practice squad.

Brian Hill and Mark Walton have been in a tight contest for the No. 4 spot. If everything was equal, Hill would win based on his preseason performance, but because Walton is a rookie fourth-round pick, he has an edge. Still, I’m going with Hill to make the team.

Also, Ryan Hewitt makes the roster as the lone fullback/h-back since Cethan Carter was injured in the preseason finale. Walton was injured, too, though he’s expected to be fine.

Cut: Mark Walton Jarveon Williams, Quinton Flowers (3)

WIDE RECEIVER (6)

A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Josh Malone, Alex Erickson, Auden Tate

Frankly, this battle has felt over for a while. These are clearly the six best receivers, including rookie Auden Tate at the No. 6 spot.

However, Tate didn’t do much in the second and third preseason games, which prompted a possibility that the Bengals went with just five receivers into the regular seasons. Positions like defensive tackle, linebacker and defensive back could end up having a guy more ready to help Cincinnati win now, so the Bengals could have opted to keep an extra player at one of those spots and in turn, keep just five receivers.

But Tate did well enough in the preseason finale to likely get that No. 6 role, catching two of three balls thrown his way for 33 yards, including a nice 26 yard grab.

Cut: Kermit Whitfield, Cody Core, Devonte Boyd, Ka’Raun White, Jared Murphy, Kayaune Ross (6)

TIGHT END (3)

Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, C.J. Uzomah

The Bengals would possibly have kept Cethan Carter, but a shoulder injury suffered in the preseason finale could cost him that spot. For now, he’s off the 53-man roster.

Cut: Cethan Carter, Mason Schreck, Jordan Franks ,Moritz Böhringer* (4)

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

Offensive tackles: Cordy Glenn, Jake Fisher, Cedric Ogbuehi, Bobby Hart

Offensive guards: Clint Boling, Trey Hopkins, Christian Westerman, Alex Redmond

Centers: Billy Price

It’s seemed like the offensive line has been set for more than a week. Alex Redmond and Trey Hopkins are in a battle for the starting right guard position while Christian Westerman has been backing up Clint Boling on the left side. It’s seemed like Westerman has been out of the right guard race, but maybe the Bengals have a surprise up their sleeves.

Cedric Ogbuehi should be cut, but the Bengals don’t really have a better option to serve as a backup tackle. Bobby Hart looks to start at right tackle with Cordy Glenn at left tacle. Jake Fisher figures to make it as a backup, too. The Bengals keep their first and second round 2015 draft picks to avoid the embarrassment of cutting them before their rookie contracts expire. And of course, Billy Price will be the starting center with Hopkins backing him up, as needed.

Cut: Justin Murray, Kent Perkins, Brad Lundblade, T.J. Johnson, (4)

Injured/Reserve: Rod Taylor

***

Total on offense: 25

Total players cut on offense: 19

Roster exemption for International Program: 1

DEFENSE

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

Defensive ends: Carlos Dunlap, Jordan Willis, Michael Johnson, Sam Hubbard, Carl Lawson

Defensive tackles: Geno Atkins, Andrew Billings, Ryan Glasgow, Andrew Brown

It’s a close call between Andrew Brown and Josh Tupou for the final defensive tackle spot. Both have played well enough to make it, but I give Brown the edge since he’s a rookie fifth-round pick, and Tupou has a better chance at making the practice squad.

Cut: Josh Tupou, Chris Okoye, Simeyon Robinson, Eddy Wilson (4)

LINEBACKERS (6*)

Preston Brown, Nick Vigil, Vincent Rey, Jordan Evans, Malik Jefferson, Hardy Nickerson

We’ve gone back and forth on who the final linebacker will be. Chris Worley, Junior Joseph, Brandon Bell and Hardy Nickerson have had their moments, but in the end, Nickerson as made more plays and has experience on the 53-man roster.

Cut: Brandon Bell, Junior Joseph, Chris Worley (3)

Suspended: Vontaze Burfict* (1)

DEFENSIVE BACKS (10)

Safeties: Shawn Williams, Jessie Bates III, Clayton Fejedelem, Brandon Wilson, Josh Shaw

Cornerbacks: William Jackson, Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, KeiVarae Russell, Darius Phillips

Trayvon Henderson was going to be a close call, but his knee injury ended any hope of making the final roster. That allows Josh Shaw to comfortably make the roster as a safety and cornerback.

KeiVarae Russell left Thursday’s game with what looked like cramps. As long as he’s healthy, he should hold off Tony McRae for the final cornerback spot.

Cut: Tony McRae, Trayvon Henderson, Tyrice Beverette, C.J. Goodwin, Davontae Harris (5)

***

Total on defense: 25

Total players cut on defense: 12

Total players suspended: 1

SPECIAL TEAMS (3)

Kicker: Randy Bullock

Punter: Kevin Huber

Long-snapper: Clark Harris

Cut: Jon Brown (1)

***

Total on special teams: 3

Total players cut on special teams: 1

Practice Squad

1. QB Logan Woodside

2. RB Mark Walton

3. RB Quinton Flowers

4. OL Kent Perkins

5. WR Kermit Whitfield

6. C Brad Lundblade

7. LB Chris Worley

8. CB Tony McRae

9. LB Brandon Bell

10. DT Josh Tupou

11. TE Moritz Böhringer (*does not count toward 10-man limit)