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Bengals roster projection: Final prediction

Final cuts are upon us. Here’s how we see things shaking out for the Bengals.

Syndication: The Enquirer Sam Greene via Imagn Content Services, LLC

It wasn’t the result the Cincinnati Bengals wanted, but nevertheless, the preseason has concluded. More pressing matters now stand in their way.

The Bengals and every other team have until Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. EST to reduce their rosters to 53 players. All waived players can be claimed up until Wednesday at 12:00 p.m. EST before they become free agents. After that, teams can begin finalizing their practice squads.

What will Cincinnati’s initial 53-man roster look like? This is our final projection.

Hakeem Adeniji, Joseph Ossai, or Wyatt Hubert may make the initial 53 so they can subsequently be placed on Injured Reserve/Designated to Return, but for the sake of this final exercise, we’ll assume all three will be out for the remainder of the year.

Quarterbacks (2)

  • Joe Burrow
  • Brandon Allen

Kyle Shurmur really did give it his all on the same day that Brandon Allen looked like the guy who threw for 371 yards in a game last year. You’d think they’d love to get Shurmur back on the practice squad.

Running backs (4)

  • Joe Mixon
  • Samaje Perine
  • Chris Evans
  • Jacques Patrick

If there was any doubt, Chris Evans has a role with this offense. The mystery remains if he’ll be ahead of someone on the depth chart. Despite the one-yard touchdown run, Patrick didn’t even have his best outing on Sunday, but it may not matter. He’s shown a lot this month and at the very least will be back on the practice squad. The only thing that may hurt him is if the team decides to go light at the position, and that may happen if they decide to initially roster one of Adeniji or Ossai.

Wide receivers (6)

  • Tee Higgins
  • Ja’Marr Chase
  • Tyler Boyd
  • Auden Tate
  • Mike Thomas
  • Trenton Irwin

We very well could see them go seven here, but if it’s just six, these have to be the guys. Irwin capped off an up-and-down preseason with a couple of tough catches against Miami. In practice, he’s already the sixth guy, so this weekend should’ve been enough to fend off both Stanley Morgan Jr. and Trent Taylor. The former will likely come back to the practice squad.

Tight ends (3)

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

Once Mitchell Wilcox left the game with a concussion, Thaddeus Moss understood what he had to do. Moss reeled in a team-high five receptions for 44 yards and got plenty of exposure on special teams. Wilcox and Mason Schreck gave it their best, but judging by Joe Burrow’s post-game comments, it seems the decision to keep Moss has already been made.

Offensive linemen (10)

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

A few questions remain here. Where will the backups be placed on the real depth chart? Michael Jordan and D’Ante Smith have gotten work at both guard spots, but Smith might have to act as their fourth tackle as well. Jordan might be the last guard off the bench now considering how late it was in Sunday’s game before he came in. That may signal which guys will be inactive on game days. Expect to see Isaiah Prince and Trey Hill end up on the practice squad.

Defensive linemen (10)

  • Sam Hubbard
  • D.J. Reader
  • Larry Ogunjobi
  • Trey Hendrickson
  • Josh Tupou
  • Darius Hodge
  • Khalid Kareem
  • Mike Daniels
  • Cameron Sample
  • Tyler Shelvin

A premature congratulations to Darius Hodge, who surely secured Ossai’s roster spot with yet another impressive showing as an all-around edge defender. The college free agent made more of an impact than recently-signed Noah Spence, who may latch onto the practice squad along with Amani Bledsoe. Maybe Spence sticks around if Khalid Kareem’s nagging shoulder injury keeps him out of Week 1.

Linebackers (5)

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

Keeping 10 at both o-line and d-line means they’ll go light somewhere, and linebacker is the perfect spot to do it. Keandre Jones and Joe Bachie had their moments this month, but the team can probably bring back both to the practice squad if they’re so inclined.

Cornerbacks (6)

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

Of all the positions where the Bengals look for help on waivers, this may be it. Tony Brown and Winston Rose don’t look worthy of a roster spot as Jalen Davis safely outplayed both of them, but Trae Waynes’ injury may press them to add outside help for the time being. Keep an eye out for available corners.

Safeties (4)

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

Whenever he gets the opportunity, Trayvon Henderson simply makes plays. He’s a great safety to stash on the practice squad since they won’t have room for five here.

Specialists (3)

  • Clark Harris
  • Kevin Huber
  • Evan McPherson

They may dream of a team offering a draft pick for Austin Seibert, but odds are they’ll be left to just cut him. Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons can be proud that he helped Seibert improve his mechanics, and his fifth-round kicker is more than ready for the big time. Evan McPherson looks primed to win the Bengals a few games this year.