We have one more preseason game to work out the details of the 53-man roster.
Thursday’s game against the Giants revealed some information to us, like who solidified their spots and who needs help.
Some position groups are already settled, while others could be greatly influenced by Preseason Week 4’s results
But for now, we have a projection based off of everything we’ve seen up to this point. There are only four differences from our last projection, but those four spots might end up making a huge difference later on this season.
Quarterbacks (2): Andy Dalton and Ryan Finley
Little here has changed despite Jake Dolegala dazzling in his NFL debut. If anything, it means Jeff Driskel is out and Dolegala has solidified his place on the practice squad.
Running Backs (4): Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Trayveon Williams, Rodney Anderson
Rodney Anderson also lit up his debut, so he’s not going anywhere. It will be very difficult for the Bengals to figure out how to get all four running backs all the snaps they should, since Joe Mixon will probably remain the workhorse that he was last season. But if injury strikes, the Bengals have a great stable of backups to go to.
Wide Receivers: (7): A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross III, Alex Erickson, Auden Tate, Damion Willis, Cody Core
This is the most difficult group to sort out, since I have to leave of three talented wideouts. By my calculations, there are ten receivers on the list of the Bengals’ best 53 players, but carrying any more than seven is highly impractical.
Zac Taylor confirmed that Damion Willis will not only make the final roster but will start in Week 1 at Seattle, so he’s safely on the roster.
The last few spots come down to Cody Core, Josh Malone, Auden Tate, Stanley Morgan, and Ventell Bryant. I went with Core and Tate on this projection because of their value on offense and on special teams. But we have one more preseason game left, and I expect the coaching staff plans on evaluating every snap to make the final decision.
Tight Ends (4): C.J. Uzomah, Tyler Eifert, Drew Sample, Mason Schreck
Excluding C.J. Uzomah, Bengals tight ends received two completions on four targets for five yards on Thursday. Mason Schreck didn’t particularly stand out, but neither did Cethan Carter or Jordan Franks, so Schreck’s spot is probably safe.
Offense Tackles (3): Cordy Glenn, Bobby Hart, Andre Smith
Again, this remains unchanged. O’Shea Dugas was in over his head against the Giants, so there’s no chance he gets added to the roster. Andre Smith played at both tackle spots, so he is the backup while Cordy Glenn should resume starting duties when he returns.
Interior Offensive Line (5): Michael Jordan, Trey Hopkins, John Miller, John Jerry, Billy Price
This grouping also remains unchanged despite the return of Christian Westerman. He was on the outside looking in before he left, so he’ll have to have the game of his life in Preseason Week 4 if he wants to remain on the roster.
Alex Redmond made his preseason debut on Wednesday, but played with the third string. He’s suspended for the first four games, so the Bengals don’t have to cut him until then.
Michael Jordan has already won a starting spot, which makes things interesting in regards to John Jerry.
Edge Defenders (5): Carlos Dunlap, Sam Hubbard, Carl Lawson, Jordan Willis, Kerry Wynn
It was good to see Carl Lawson wreak havoc on opponents again. This group could really become something special this year.
Interior Defensive Line (5): Geno Atkins, Andrew Billings, Ryan Glasgow, Andrew Brown, Renell Wren
Renell Wren continued to lead the defense in snaps, so the Bengals are giving him every opportunity to take this job. Josh Tupou is also getting a lot of work, but with a crowded room, he may be relegated to the practice squad.
Linebackers (6): Preston Brown, Nick Vigil, Jordan Evans, Germaine Pratt, Deshaun Davis, Malik Jefferson
Preston Brown, Nick Vigil, Jordan Evans, and Germaine Pratt all have their spots secured on the roster at this point. The frustrating thing is that one or two other spots are up for grabs, but no one has stepped up. I initially switched Deshaun Davis for Malik Jefferson on this projection, but my 53rd spot came down to him and Davontae Harris. Jefferson can still play his way into a spot with a good Week 4 outing, but is still on the bubble.
Cornerbacks (5): William Jackson III, Dre Kirkpatrick, B.W. Webb, Darqueze Dennard, Darius Phillips
Davontae Harris is facing an uphill battle next week. He’s made too many mistakes—especially on special teams. Week 4’s matchup will be an especially important game for him.
Tony McRae is another guy that played himself out of contention on Thursday. He got the chance to start in the slot, but gave up four completions on five targets and 72 yards, adding 29.5 points to Eli Manning and Daniel Jones’ combined passer rating.
Anthony Chesley is a name to keep an eye on in Week 4. He probably won’t make the 53-man roster, but if he plays well enough, he might be able to steal a practice squad spot.
Safeties (4): Jessie Bates III, Shawn Williams, Clayton Fejedelem, Brandon Wilson
Shawn Williams’ spot was never in doubt, but he has cleaned up his game from Preseason Week 1. Behind him, Clayton Fejedelem and Brandon Wilson are still in a good spot to make the roster again despite a quiet preseason.
Specialists (3): Randy Bullock, Kevin Huber, Clark Harris
Tristan Vizcaino and Dan Godsil should get a participation trophy for their efforts in the preseason, but they might as well pack their bags now.
Practice Squad (11):
QB Jake Dolegala, RB Jordan Ellis, WR Stanley Morgan, WR Ventell Bryant, TE Mortiz Böhringer (International Player Pathway Program), TE Jordan Franks, OL Brad Lundblade, DL Josh Tupou, LB Sterling Sheffield, CB Davontae Harris, CB Jordan Brown