Here’s a position-by-position look at the current Bengals 53:
Quarterbacks (2): Andy Dalton, Bruce Gradkowski
It was assumed the Bengals would only carry two signal-callers, and that’s exactly what happened with starter Dalton entrenched and Jay Gruden favorite Bruce Gradkowski as the lone back-up. Zac Robinson played well in the preseason, and is eligible to return to the practice squad.
Running backs (6): Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis, Bernard Scott, Brian Leonard, Cedric Peerman, and Chris Pressley
This also went as expected. FA’s Jourdan Brooks and Dan Herron were let go after lackluster performances in preseason. Scott and BJGE are still slowly coming off injuries. Leonard remains the third down guy and Peerman has flashed while again playing solidly on special teams. Pressley returns as the lone fullback. Don’t be surprised if the team scours the waiver wire for a potential upgrade, however. Scott, in particular, could be in jeopardy.
Wide Receivers (7): A.J. Green, Armon Binns, Brandon Tate, Andrew Hawkins, Mohammed Sanu, Marvin Jones, and Ryan Whalen
Big surprise here that the team kept seven. Six is the norm with one being inactive on game day. In the end, it could indicate that the team still isn’t sure who their top 6 are, and are afraid of letting a talent like Whalen go just yet. No one has really separated themselves so far, though Jones makes the best case. Whalen’s big performance last night might have secured a spot.
Tight Ends (3): Jermaine Gresham, Donald Lee, and Orson Charles
Expected in my view. Gresham is the clear starter, and Donald Lee performs well whenever his number is called. Charles was fairly safe as a mid-round pick, which meant that Colin Cochart was the odd man out. Cochart can not return to the practice squad. He was a regular contributor last year.
Offensive Line (9): C Kyle Cook, C Jeff Faine, OG Trevor Robinson, OG Clint Boling, OG Kevin Zeitler, OT Anthony Collins, OT Dennis Roland, OT Andrew Whitworth, OT Andre Smith
Cutting both Otis Hudson and Reggie Stephens means the team is comfortable with undrafted C/G Trevor Robinson playing significant snaps in 2012. His performance against the Colts may have made that final argument. Boling takes over as the starter on the left side, and the rookie Zeitler will start on the right. Faine will probably get the start next week. The Bengals are most likely planning to put Cook on injured reserve after September 4th, allowing them to bring him back later on in the season. This means the team will probably sign another offensive lineman at that point to bridge the gap.
Defensive Line (8): DE Robert Geathers, DE Michael Johnson, DE Carlos Dunlap, DE Jamaal Anderson, DT Geno Atkins, DT Domata Peko, DT Brandon Thompson, and DT Devon Still
Moving Pat Sims to the PUP allows them to keep him on the roster through week 8 before deciding what to do with him. In the meantime, this position should perform well, assuming Dunlap and Geathers return quickly from their current injuries. Jay Hayes’s group should be able to platoon in and out again this year, keeping the line fresh.
Linebackers (6): Thomas Howard, Rey Maualuga, Manny Lawson, Dan Skuta, Vincent Rey, and Vontaze Burfict
The team is going a little light here. Seven would be better, but with the question marks on the O-line and WR, this was the place a spot was taken from. The same starters from 2011 return (Howard, Maualuga, and Lawson) as does first back-up Skuta, who can play all 3 spots. Rey and Burfict were kept while Roddrick Muckelroy was let go. The team must really like Rey’s versatility and smarts and Burfict’s potential. Muckelroy could get scooped up elsewhere after a strong preseason.
Cornerbacks (6): Nate Clements, Leon Hall, Adam Jones, Jason Allen, Terence Newman, Dre Kirkpatrick
Despite a myriad of injuries and a general lack of practice time, the team went with the expected group of 6 first round picks. Clements and Newman have been reliable so far but are the graybeards in this group. Hall is still working his way back from the Achilles injury, and the last three, Jones, Kirkpatrick, and Allen, have all been walking wounded for weeks now. The team will likely bring Chris Harris-Lewis back on the practice squad (assuming he clears waivers). Harris-Lewis stayed healthy all summer and provided some pretty impressive play. His availability might be required as the season wears on. Jones and Allen need to get back on the field in a hurry. Clements will swing to safety some this year.
Safety (4): Taylor Mays, Reggie Nelson, Jeromy Miles, and George Iloka
The season-ending injury to Robert Sands secured Iloka’s spot. Mays and Miles will likely alternate a bit this year. Nelson looks to continue being a stalwart in Mike Zimmer’s backfield.
Specialists (3): K Mike Nugent, P Kevin Huber, LS Clark Harris
No surprises here. The same group from last year. Nugent destroyed his competition during camp, nailing long field goals with relative ease. Huber was uncontested and has done a solid job in the preseason. Harris held off a push from rookie Bryce Davis.
What do you think of this roster?