The wheels are turning in the nooks and crannies of the NFL with cutdown day less than 24 hours away. The Bengals figure to be going through similar procedures before they have to cut or list 22 players by 6 p.m. Saturday. But they usually announce their moves a couple of hours before.
Then they have until Sunday afternoon to tweak their roster with waiver claims and form their eight-man practice squad. But, in actuality, they are always tweaking so what you see Saturday and what you see Sunday may be the Opening Day roster, but it may not be the roster for the home opener Sept. 19 at Paul Brown Stadium against the Ravens.
Don't look for any vested veterans to join the club until after the first game. Could one possibility be quarterback Patrick Ramsey, a guy that would be smart enough to pick it up quickly after the Saints cut him Friday? The biggest workout Tuesday of the season is the Tuesday after the opener because teams don't have to guarantee player salaries if those players are on the roster after the opener.
The one exception may be a kicker, but both Mike Nugent and Dave Rayner looked healthy enough to kick in New England Sept. 12 with Nugent the leader in the clubhouse on the basis of two 50-plus-yard field goals.
Every team is talking some kind of trade on some kind of level until they make their cuts Saturday. That entails the interested team to call and identify the player it wants while telling Team B to peruse its roster to see what interests them. That's why trades don't happen a lot since one or the other or both is asking for too much knowing the guy is about to be cut.
The Bengals could obviously use some help at fullback since they don't have a healthy one and maybe if there is a young No. 2 quarterback they'd like to develop. It is going to be hard for anyone to slip through waivers to Cincinnati's No. 21 claiming position and a trade could be the only way if the team is interested enough.
There are usual numbers games.
Eight or nine defensive linemen? Six or seven linebackers? Six cornerbacks and four safeties or five cornerbacks and five safeties?
There are the usual lives on the bubble.
If the Bengals go and get a fullback, that does not bode well for Dan Coats, the fourth tight end that can play fullback. Quan Cosby and Jerome Simpson did the best in the preseason of the wide receivers competing for the fifth and sixth spots. But what if the Bengals decide, in Cosby's case, that they already have enough punt returners in Adam Jones and Jordan Shipley? And what if, in Simpson's case, they're tired of waiting on his technique to catch up with his raw skills and they opt for the polished route running of a guy three years younger in sixth rounder Dez Briscoe?
"I'll have no problem sleeping tomorrow night," Cosby said in the visitors locker room. "I'll pray for everybody and hope it works out for the best."
And then there is safety Kyries Hebert. The special teams captain who has led the Bengals in special-teams tackling since he joined the team in 2008 and plays with the ferocity and passion special teams coach Darrin Simmons has cultivated. The last safety spot looks to be open with Gibril Wilson on injured reserve, but even Hebert said last week he would cut himself off of how he played from scrimmage in Buffalo last Saturday night.
The guys with whom he looks to be tangling, Rico Murray and Marvin White, were cut on this day last year. Not much has changed except that Hebert, at 29, looked to be on the outside looking in with the Wilson signing.
"You never know, but they're going to make the right decision; do what's right for the team," Hebert said in the visitors locker room Thursday night. "I hope I'm here. Coach (Mike) Zimmer and Coach Simmons have been really good for my career. They're very good at what they do."
Hebert seems to do this every preseason. And on the same play. He reminds the coaches why they love him and fear him.
It happened in the second quarter when rookie cornerback Johnny Sears got beat inside on a slant by wide receiver Blair White and Hebert stood facing him in the middle of the field. But he couldn't stop and swivel his hips in time to keep it an eight-yard completion. But as he sped past White, he didn't put his head down. Instead, he circled back, raced downfield to haul him down after a 52-yard gain, and the Colts ended up only getting a field goal.
"It was a tough play. It was a two-way go. I should have used the sideline," Hebert said. "But I had to go get him and prevent the score. This defense doesn't (hang its head). We have too much pride and with a coordinator like Zimmer, there is no quit in us."
Hebert felt better about Thursday night than Saturday night. But then, this is a guy that has been through it all. He was once the highest paid defensive player in CFL history. A contract snafu prevented the Bengals from signing him two years earlier in '06. Undrafted out of Louisiana-Lafayette, he was released on a cutdown day eight years earlier with the Vikings.
"I think I played better," Hebert said. "It was one of those things I tried to bang some heads on the opening kickoff. I got to be physical, hit people. That's the name of my game; run around and hit and cause confusion and disruption all over the field."
He shrugged. Earlier this week he said this marked his ninth straight cutdown day on the bubble.
"I hope it works out well," he said.
It's all that can be said as the wheels turn.