Updated: 10 p.m.
You can't exactly call this the Graying of the Bengals.
After the Bengals cut their roster to the 53-man limt Friday, the AFC's youngest team last season with an average age of 25.74 years on the Opening Day roster stands at 25.82 without center
Without Cook, the average years of NFL experience is up slightly to 4.08, compared to last season's cutdown day average of 3.75. Which means they're a year older and the Bengals are hoping a year wiser and better.
Both this year and last year the Bengals cut down to 17 players with two years of experience or less, a third of the roster. It paid off last year and this year with more emerging young players like their starting guards and complementary wide receivers, head coach Marvin Lewis likes the profiles of the 46 guys that are going to be active on game day.
"There is a lot of flexibility with guys getting the majority of the play load," Lewis said.
And that was reflected in the Bengals keeping seven wide receivers, which highlighted Friday's cuts. Anointing rookie free agent Vontaze Burfict as the backup middle linebacker while releasing three-year veteran Roddrick Muckelroy and keeping the injured Cook on the 53 also were noteworthy moves.
It's believed the Bengals have never gone with seven wide receivers in Lewis's 10 seasons and he may be back to the usual six by the time they hit the practice field Monday to prepare for the Sept. 10 regular-season opener.
"They out-performed a lot of guys competing for other spots," Lewis said. "That's the beauty of training camp. Guys get the opportunity to play and that adds value to what they do."
This is not the final 53. There figure to be additions and deletions Saturday by early afternoon after the Bengals paw through the waiver wire. Plus, Lewis said Friday night there is a possibility that Cook goes on the new injured reserve recall list Tuesday in the hopes of his return in eight weeks.
That means the Bengals would go into the opener with just eight offensive linemen instead of the usual nine, but they'll be able to add a player in time for Wednesday's practice if they shelve Cook.
Or will they subtract a receiver and add to another position?
It depends what they see on the waiver wire, where there could possibly be a veteran center-guard type that they could use with free-agent rookie
But the Bengals are also running one light on the defensive line with eight instead of nine and could make a move there.
But the seven receivers certainly deserve to be here.
The two draft picks, third-rounder
The Bengals apparently decided Whalen is the better player when compared to an 11th DB, a ninth D-lineman, or a fourth tight end. Muckelroy, a fourth-rounder in 2010 off missing all last season with an Achilles he ruptured in the first half hour of training camp, is the most noticeable release.
After a solid year on special teams as a rookie, Muckelroy rebounded from his injury with a solid preseason and went into the finale with a team-leading 15 tackles. Muckelroy had two against the Colts on the press-box stats while Burfict had a sack and two tackles, as well as a tackle on special teams.
Yet Muckelroy got caught in a numbers game because not only can Burfict back up middle linebacker
Burfict's rise from the draft's most controversial player to a roster spot happened because Lewis gave him a fresh start after a turbulent last year at Arizona State that also included a terrible NFL scouting combine at Indianapolis where he ran the slowest 40-yard dash time at his position and turned off teams in his interviews.
But Burfict returned to Lucas Oil Stadium Thursday a different guy.
"I don't know the guy at Arizona State. I don't need to know about anything in the past," said Lewis, and that's why Burfict made it. "He's done everything he needs to do to be a productive linebacker in the National Football League on special teams and defense."
Along with Burfict, Notre Dame's Robinson also made the roster as an undrafted rookie after his first start at center on any level against the Colts. All but one of the 10 draft picks made it, but the Bengals figure to try to sign Ohio State running back Daniel Herron to the practice squad. Fifth-rounder
The Bengals can form a practice squad of up to eight players Saturday and among the leading candidates are Herron, running back/fullback Jourdan Brooks, and right guard Otis Hudson, as well as some players that were on the squad last season in quarterback Zac Robinson, tackle Matthew O'Donnell, and defensive ends DeQuin Evans and Micah Johnson.
Also as expected, SAM backer/end
The Bengals didn't put one of the five players they placed on injured reserve last week on the 53, an option the NFL gave teams to help implement the IR-Recall list.
As for flexibility, Lewis has some options.
For instance, at wide receiver he's got three returners in Tate, Hawkins and Marvin Jones, as well as three slot receivers in Hawkins, Whalen and Sanu.
On the offensive line, Collins and Roland can play both guard and tackle, and in the secondary cornerback
Here is the 53-man roster as it stands before it can be tweaked with waiver claims and IR moves (Years of NFL experience):
WIDE RECEIVERS: 7 -
OFFENSIVE LINE: 9
CENTER: Kyle Cook (5),
FULLBACK: 1 -
DEFENSIVE LINE: 8
MIDDLE LINEBACKER: Rey Maualuga (4), Vontaze Burfict (R)
FREE SAFETY: Reggie Nelson (6),
LONG SNAPPER: 1 -
--FB Jourdan Brooks (rookie, Morgan State)
--TE Colin Cochart (second year player, South Dakota State)
--LS Bryce Davis (rookie, Central Oklahoma)
--FB James Develin (first-year player, Brown)
--DE DeQuin Evans (first-year player, Kentucky)
--WR Vidal Hazelton (first-year player, Cincinnati)
--CB T.J. Heath (second-year player, Jacksonville State)
--RB Daniel Herron (rookie, Ohio State)
--G Otis Hudson (second-year player, Eastern Illinois)
--LB Grant Hunter (rookie, Butler)
--DE Micah Johnson (first-year player, Kentucky)
--LB Emmanuel Lamur (LB, Kansas State)
--CB Chris Lewis-Harris (rookie, Tennessee-Chattanooga)
--DT Vaughn Meatoga (rookie, Hawaii)
--LB Roddrick Muckelroy (third-year player, Texas)
--T Matthew O’Donnell (first-year player, Queens, Canada)
--QB Zac Robinson (second-year player, Oklahoma State)
--G Reggie Stephens (second-year player, Iowa State)