Now that we are half-way through the preseason, it is time to take another look at how the roster is shaping up. We know quite a bit more than we did back in May when I did my second projection of who the 25 offensive players would be. Was I close? What has changed since then?
The biggest hit was seeing Wharton lost for the season. I will make an allowance for the possibility that the Bengals could seek out someone from the waiver wires to fill the LG spot if Boling and Hudson underwhelm in the final two preseason games. But we can only go with what we know at the moment. I feel pretty good about the rest of the picks.
To make it easier, so you don’t have to bounce between posts if you want to compare, players who remain in the same spot as last time are in bold, while players I have moved are in italics.OFFENSIVE ROSTER PROJECTION #2 Pos Starter Backup Practice Squad Miss The Team QB Andy Dalton Bruce Gradkowski Zac Robinson Tyler Hanson RT Andre Smith Anthony Collins Matthew O’Donnell RG Kevin Zeitler Matt Murphy Trevor Robinson C Kyle Cook Reggie Stephens LG Clint Boling Otis Hudson Travelle Wharton (IR) LT Andrew Whitworth Dennis Roland WR1 A.J. Green Marvin Jones Ryan Whalen Kashif Moore
Justin Hilton WR2 Brandon Tate Armon Binns WR3 Andrew Hawkins Mohamed Sanu TE Jermaine Gresham Orson Charles
Donald Lee Colin Cochart Bryce Davis FB Chris Pressley James Develin
Jourdan Brooks RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis
Bernard Scott Brian Leonard
Cedric Peerman Aaron Brown Rodney Stewart
QB: I still see the Bengals going with just two QBs, even though Gradkowski isn’t the most confidence-inspiring of backups. I haven’t heard any links, but I’m not sure I would be opposed to the Bengals going back to the well and trading with Seattle to get Tarvaris Jackson. I hear you groan a little, but would he really be worse than Gradkowski?
I flipped Robinson and Hansen again. Hansen got some nice words around minicamp, but given that Robinson already has a year in the system on the PS and Hansen has yet to come into a game ahead of him, things don’t look good for the Colorado QB.
OL: Despite the endorsement from guys like Whitworth and Dave Lapham, who said that Boling was having the best camp of the guard even before the injury to Wharton, there is concern about whether Boling can be the man at a position that has been a perennial weakness. I heard the suggestion that the Bengals should move Whit to LG and start Collins at LT. As much as I like that idea, with being paid like an LT, they will make him play LT.
The other change for me was the downgrade of Reggie Stephens, who has been losing snaps to Matt Murphy as the backup center. I am still wondering about the possibility of O’Donnell making the practice squad.
WR: Other than flipping Hawkins and Sanu, I had this group of six right. Time will tell if Binns can force us to flip him with Tate, but until he has a substantially better game than Tate, I have to consider the guy with the experience to have the edge.
I thought we would have seen more out of Moore than we have. Given that Whalen is still eligible for the PS, I think he gets the nod (assuming he clears waivers). He will be the most ready to step in and produce if one of the top six should be injured. (knock on wood)
TE: While Cochart is likely the odd man out, he has enough merit to make the PS for a year and give Lee another run next year… if the Bengals make Lee an offer for next year.
RB: While the fumbles by Leonard and Peerman in Atlanta were disheartening, I don’t see anyone behind them pushing them off the roster. Hopefully the flubs will serve both as strong reminders to keep the ball “high and tight” at all times.
The disappointing performance has been Dan Herron. He has been unable to get into games until very late, and has put up meager numbers when he has gotten in (even though he is running against a bunch of scrubs). I don’t think he has made enough of a case to warrant the PS.
UPCOMING TESTS: There are a number of tests to be run as the Bengals square up against the Packers this week. Andy Dalton and A.J. Green have looked good so far, but most of the rest could still improve their stock.
#2 WR: The Falcons pretty well erased Binns and Tate. That can’t happen in the regular season. One of these two have to prove that they are an option to be respected, or the offense could get stale fast.
RB: This position still needs some pop. With having seen so little of BJGE and Scott, it is hard to know what is really there for the regular season. It is easy to get nervous about what we have seen from the backups, but remember that out of necessity they are playing much large and more demanding roles than they will see once the season starts.
LG: Boling doesn’t have to be lights-out against the Packers, but he needs to show improvement from the previous game. The standard we judge him by ought to be fewer mistakes. Better recognition and reaction means he is growing and will continue to do so with each game.
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