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Bengals roster projection: Preseason Week 3 Edition

With one preseason game remaining, who is left fighting for their jobs?

NFL: AUG 20 Preseason - Bengals at Washington Football Team

Final cuts for every NFL team are just a week away. The Cincinnati Bengals, like the 31 other franchises, have tough decisions to make.

Injuries are starting to rear their ugly heads, but that can make some decisions a bit easier. It’s just one aspect that makes this business so callous.

The fun part of these roster projections is that despite more information being available to us, we’re still just guessing based off that information. Snap counts are hard data and practice reports are simply observations, but neither can be interpreted in just one way.

This is simply the latest interpretation of what we think we know.

Quarterbacks (2)

  • Joe Burrow
  • Brandon Allen

Allen is quite lucky Kyle Shurmur ain’t it. Will Burrow play on Sunday?

Running backs (4)

  • Joe Mixon
  • Samaje Perine
  • Chris Evans
  • Jacques Patrick (waived initially to make room for Ossai)

On one hand, Evans has impressed in multiple facets and you probably only need three backs on game days. On the other hand, Patrick has impressed even more and is worthy of more than just a practice squad salary. Someone will need to hit waivers for a day so they can place Joseph Ossai on IR, so it might as well be the fourth-string running back in a league full of talented runners.

Wide receivers (6)

  • Tee Higgins
  • Ja’Marr Chase
  • Tyler Boyd
  • Auden Tate
  • Mike Thomas
  • Stanley Morgan Jr.

This is the most questionable group. I cannot say with confidence whom the final two or three will be, and it honestly should be three but that’s probably not what happens. Thomas is still one of their main reserves along with Tate and Morgan is just too damn good on the punt team. He also has slot experience so the depth chart placement fits nicely.

Trent Taylor and Trenton Irwin were having strong camps but their collective momentum may’ve died a bit in the last few days. Irwin had a forgettable game in Washington and Taylor just hasn’t made much of an impact in the return game. Darius Phillips looks like the main option back there anyways. There is no use in counting them out with a week left, though. Still such a wide open race for the final spots.

Tight ends (3)

  • C.J. Uzomah
  • Drew Sample
  • Thaddeus Moss

The battle between Moss, Mason Schreck and Mitchell Wilcox is said to be a close, but even if it is, what does Schreck have left to give that Moss can’t provide? Moss has seen more of the field and more balls thrown his way this month than Schreck, a fifth-year veteran who has never made an impact in the regular season. I’m still leaning Moss with a week to go.

Offensive linemen (10)

  • Jonah Williams
  • Quinton Spain
  • Trey Hopkins
  • Xavier Su’a-Filo
  • Riley Reiff
  • Fred Johnson
  • D’Ante Smith
  • Billy Price
  • Michael Jordan
  • Jackson Carman

From the previous roster projection:

“The team’s initial depth chart incited panic when fans saw Michael Jordan’s name listed as the starting right guard. Jordan may get the first-team reps at that spot come Saturday, but his starting spot is far from secured.”

Sure enough, Jordan looks to be out of the starting lineup for now despite looking solid through two preseason games. Xavier Su’a-Filo has been practicing with the ones recently and started at right guard on Friday, so unless something changes, you can pencil him in for Week 1 between Trey Hopkins and Riley Reiff. Get your eraser ready, though.

The only player who can feasibly break up this group of 10 is Isaiah Prince. It’s just difficult seeing him make it over anyone else if Su’a-Filo is in the plans.

Defensive linemen (10)

  • Sam Hubbard
  • D.J. Reader
  • Larry Ogunjobi
  • Trey Hendrickson
  • Mike Daniels
  • Josh Tupou
  • Darius Hodge
  • Cameron Sample
  • Khalid Kareem
  • Tyler Shelvin
  • Joseph Ossai (to be placed on Injured Reserve/Designated to Return)

Make no mistake, Ossai doesn’t appear to be returning anytime soon, but is it too early to give up on him for the season? I think they’ll want to have the option to bring him back if possible, which would require them to wait until after final cuts to place him on I.R. Once September rolls around, then the group will go back down to 10.

Replacing Ossai on the depth chart has to be Hodge at this point. The rookie out of Marshall is having a fantastic month and is earning every snap he gets. They’ll need Kareem and Sample to step up in the regular season to best compensate for Ossai’s absence.

Linebackers (5)

  • Logan Wilson
  • Germaine Pratt
  • Akeem Davis-Gaither
  • Jordan Evans
  • Markus Bailey

The Cincinnati Bengals... have a competent linebacking corps? From top to bottom? Am I having a stroke? No need for an extra Joe Bachie or Keandre Jones if these five keep playing like they have, especially Wilson, Bailey, and Pratt.

Cornerbacks (6)

  • Trae Waynes
  • Chidobe Awuzie
  • Mike Hilton
  • Darius Phillips
  • Eli Apple
  • Jalen Davis

I would’ve been stunned to read this in June, but Jalen Davis is making this team. Use a sharpie when writing his name down. The guy looks like a completely different cornerback from last year. He had something to prove, and he damn sure proved it.

It’d be nice to see Apple play before the season starts, but Tony Brown underwhelming only strengthens Apple’s security.

Safeties (4)

  • Jessie Bates III
  • Vonn Bell
  • Ricardo Allen
  • Brandon Wilson

Wilson and Trayvon Henderson lead the defense in snaps through two weeks of preseason, but Allen is the wily veteran, and it’d be surprising to see Henderson leapfrog him altogether.

Specialists (3)

  • Clark Harris
  • Kevin Huber
  • Evan McPherson

Someone get the bubble wrap for McPherson’s legs.