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7 former Bengals players facing tough roster battles this year

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The Bengals are taking the day off today. So let’s take the opportunity to see what former Bengals players are doing with their new teams.

NFL: Buffalo Bills-OTA Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Obsessing over the Cincinnati Bengals is part of our genetics.

See? Science is cool.

This obsession revolves around players, from the starting quarterback, to secondary, and the glorious warriors of the trenches. There’s often an emotional investment with these guys (good and bad) and when they leave, this connection remains. When names like Carson Palmer, Jermaine Gresham, Shayne Graham, Frostee Rucker, and Matt Toeaina (at least for one Monday night game in Chicago) surface, many of us pay attention.

Maybe we want them to succeed, or fail. It’s not out of a petty mindset; it’s more like validating the release, or letting that player move on. Did Cincinnati make the right decision, or is the team struggling to anticipate player development?

So while the Bengals are taking the day off on Sunay, let’s take a look at how some former Bengals are faring with their new team.


Fifty-three seconds remain.

Cincinnati, down by a field goal, had the football on Baltimore’s 49-yard line. With nine losses already secured, the Bengals were out of the playoffs. It was fourth and 12. There was nothing to lose. Go for it. There’s no difference between 6-10, 7-9, or even 10-6 if the end result means you’re home during the playoffs.

Baltimore, facing a “win and you’re in” scenario, needed to stop the Bengals. Everything favored the Ravens, whose top-10 passing defense needed to stop the Bengals’ worst-ranked offense from gaining 12 yards. T-w-e-l-v-e!

The Bengals called for three receivers, with Tyler Boyd, Brandon LaFell and A.J. Green flanked wide left. Baltimore showed cover one initially but flipped to cover two just prior to the snap.

Formation on the Bengals 4th-and-12 situation against the Ravens that led to Tyler Boyd’s 49-yard touchdown.
Josh Kirkendall

All three receivers were assigned vertical routes while Uzomah and Mixon cut underneath on a cross and hook respectively. LaFell and Green apparently knew the ball wasn’t coming their way (both were smothered by a cornerback with a safety shadowing them), so their effort to break free was relatively pedestrian.

Boyd just kept running until quarterback Andy Dalton targeted a gap in zone coverage. Once C.J. Mosley broke off Boyd, Dalton unleashed hell on Baltimore. Cincinnati won on Boyd’s 49-yard touchdown reception.

Cincinnati celebrated.

So did Buffalo, whose team entered the postseason for the first time in 18 years. An appreciative Bills fanbase donated more than $360,000 to the Andy Dalton Foundation and another $65,000 for Tyler Boyd’s initiative to benefit the Western Pennsylvania Youth Athletic Association. In addition, the Bills sent the Bengals 1,400 chicken wings, 90 pound of celery, 30 pounds of carrots, six gallons of blue cheese, and nine gallons of Duff’s wing sauce. Cincinnati donated the food to Autism Services at The Children’s Home of Cincinnati.

Don’t blow this, Buffalo.

The Bills blew it, struggling against an insanely good defense in Jacksonville and losing 10-3; the failure to secure a first-round win adds another relatable thing that the Bengals and Bills share.

There’s more.

During the offseason, former quarterback AJ McCarron and center Russell Bodine joined the Bills, while Cincinnati and Buffalo exchanged draft picks to ship offensive tackle Cordy Glenn to the Bengals.

Bodine, who reportedly turned down a five-year offer with Cincinnati, signed a two-year deal with Buffalo worth $5 million. Bodine is currently in a battle with Ryan Groy for the starting center position, vacated after Eric Wood’s retirement.

According to Buffalo Rumblings, Groy has been accumulating more first-team snaps recently.

Both players had been alternating stints as starters until Thursday. As the second week of camp began, Groy earned a second consecutive day with the starters, suggesting that he may be pulling ahead in the competition.

The quarterback rotation in Buffalo is even murkier. AJ McCarron is battling Nate Peterman for the starting quarterback gig. Head coach Sean McDermott tempered the growing belief that McCarron is pulling ahead after taking more first team snaps recently, saying that “the move (was) in order to evenly distribute red zone drills between McCarron and Nate Peterman.”

McCarron and Bodine could be exchanging snaps together during opening weekend. Or they might not. That storyline is interestingly playing itself out.

+ IN OTHER FORMER BENGALS PLAYERS UPDATES. It wasn’t a foregone conclusion that Jeremy Hill would make the New England Patriots roster. Their roster is loaded with running backs, including Rex Burkhead, James White, Mike Gillislee, special teamer Brandon Bolden, and rookies Ralph Webb and first-rounder pick Sony Michel. Durability concerns on the roster may be Hill’s ticket in.

“At this point, I’d say Jeremy Hill has a better chance than Mike Gillislee at making the roster as a fifth running back,” writes Doug Kyed. “That’s partially because Gillislee just has so much trouble staying healthy. I don’t think the Patriots necessarily need to keep five running backs, but it would be a nice luxury to have given Burkhead’s injury history.”

Karen Guregian with the Boston Herald agrees, writing that “right now, Hill edges out Gillislee, who has trouble staying healthy. He just got back on the field Thursday wearing a red non-contract jersey.”

Hill, a former second-round pick, played four seasons in Cincinnati, posting 2,873 yards rushing and 29 touchdowns. However, after his rookie season, Hill only averaged 3.6 yards/rush and 46 yards/game as his role began dwindling to just short-yardage situations. Once the team drafted Joe Mixon in the second-round of the 2017 NFL draft, Hill became expendable.

+ In the meantime:

  • Stability appears to favor Andre Smith the most. He’s expected to make the Cardinals’ roster at right tackle.
  • Linebacker Kevin Minter is expected to make the New York Jets’ roster.
  • Chris Smith, who signed a $14 million deal over three years, is expected to enhance the Browns’ pass rush.
  • Still Unsigned: DT Pat Sims, RB Cedric Peerman, OT Eric Winston, CB Adam Jones