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Bengals preseason Week 4 rookie report: Jake Dolegala, Ventell Bryant make their final cases

Dolegala and Bryant conclude impressive preseason performances, while our worst fears for Rodney Anderson came true.

Indianapolis Colts v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It took about 15 hours following the Bengals’ 13-6 loss to the Colts on Thursday night for the Bengals to fire off their first round of cuts on Friday. Of the 11 players waived, seven of them were rookies.

Pour one out for these guys:

  • LB Curtis Akins
  • C Kirk Barron
  • LS Dan Godsil
  • DT Dare Odeyingbo
  • LB Sterling Sheffield
  • DE Immanuel Turner
  • K Tristan Vizcaino

None of these guys had a shot at making the final roster, but it’s still shocking to see Godsil, the backup long snapper, cut after he recovered two fumbles on Thursday.

Just kidding.

The Bengals still need to waive 27 more players to get to 53, and the majority of them will be rookies as well. We’re only concerned with those that will make the team or should be called back for the practice squad.

The early draft picks that will make the roster didn’t play that much, if at all. Tight end Drew Sample and linebacker Germaine Pratt played a combined 37 snaps, including a combined 14 special teams snaps. We’ve seen enough of what they bring to the table, and both should be solid rotational players early on in the season.

Defensive tackle Renell Wren once again eclipsed 30 snaps played and did next to nothing with them. He’s essentially a lock to be inactive on game days, especially if Josh Tupou makes the roster. Michael Jordan, now a starter, obviously didn’t play at all.

As for the rest that did play, here’s a quick recap.

The Jake Dolegala and Ventell Bryant connection is real

It’s been a fun offseason for the trio of Bryant, Damion Willis and Stanley Morgan. The three undrafted rookies are talented enough to play on Sundays, but not all three will make the final roster. Willis and Morgan didn’t play as the former is going to start for A.J. Green to begin the regular season and the latter has been hurt for two weeks now.

Bryant, on the other hand, led the team in receiving against the Colts. His rapport with Jake Dolegala was on full display as the duo connected nine times for 83 yards on 13 targets.

Much of Dolegala’s success this preseason has been from targeting Bryant. It’s clear these two have established a great connection in training camp and its translated onto the field nicely. Both players started as absolute long shots to make the final roster, and now there’s a legit conversation to keep both of them.

Will that happen? Probably not. Bryant essentially has to beat out both Josh Malone and Cody Core, which isn’t impossible but also unlikely. Dolegala isn’t taking Ryan Finley’s spot as Andy Dalton’s backup, so the only way he stays is if Zac Taylor and his staff want to keep three quarterbacks. Possible, but again, not probable.

If both are waived, I’d be absolutely shocked if they weren’t both brought back on the practice squad. Keeping these two together throughout the year is in their best interest.

See you in 2020, Rodney Anderson

Not again. Why must you be so cruel, injury gods?

After Anderson fumbled a fourth-and-two carry on the offense’s second series of the game, the Bengals sent the rookie back on the field five minutes later. Anderson carried the ball for four yards and went to ground awkwardly as about four Colts tackled him. Immediately grabbing at the infamous right knee he injured a year ago, Anderson hobbled off the field. His night was over, as was his season.

Anderson re-tore his right ACL, which seemed obviously after watching it happen. This is the fourth season-ending injury Anderson will now suffer through in the last five years, which is absurdly unlucky. The label “injury-prone” is an unfair one for many reasons, but the Bengals knew the risk when playing a recently-recovered Anderson too much behind an awful offensive line in a meaningless game, and they will now suffer the consequences.

The next stop for Anderson is the Injured Reserve list, so that opens up possibilities with what they can do at the position. Undrafted running back Jordan Ellis figures to have the best chance at replacing him if they still want to roll with four backs, but the practice squad is a safer bet for him.

Others playing for the practice squad

The offensive line is probably going to have eight players make the final roster, because there is no one who’s good enough to warrant them keeping a ninth. Ideally, the ninth would be a tackle, but the guy who had the best chance of taking that role, O’Shea Dugas, didn’t even play on Thursday.

Keaton Sutherland did, and played the best along the offensive line. He started at center and then later moved to left tackle, but the rookie out of Texas A&M plays best inside. Dugas has been the safe bet to make the practice squad, but Sutherland probably deserves a spot more.

Defensive ends Immanuel Turner and Dare Odeyingbo played 49 and 46 snaps, respectively, which was the second and third most on the defense. Turner was credited with a half-sack and Odeyingbo also got in a quarterback hit. Depending on how many the Bengals keep on the defensive line, one of these guys could find themselves on the practice squad.

Linebacker Deshaun Davis is still very much alive for the final roster and led all linebackers in snaps with 46. Five tackles (three were defensive stops) helps his case to kick Hardy Nickerson off of the roster, which is what I expect to happen. Noah Dawkins is the lone undrafted linebacker from this year’s draft class left on the roster, but the practice squad is all he can hope for at this point.

The cornerback room looks to be set, so Jordan Brown and Anthony Chesley were essentially battling for a practice squad spot. Chesley has played 50 more snaps than Brown, so he might have the edge in that competition. Safety Tyree Kinnel (28 snaps) has also seen his fair share of opportunity, so he’s still in the mix for the practice squad as well.