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Bengals Seek To Navigate Deep Roster As Mandatory Minicamp Opens

QB Joe Burrow during training at the Kettering Health Practice Fields on Wednesday, May 29, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
QB Joe Burrow during training at the Kettering Health Practice Fields on Wednesday, May 29, 2024 in Cincinnati, Ohio.

A thumbnail look at the Bengals roster as the three-day mandatory minicamp opens Tuesday and runs through Thursday.

(Years of NFL experience in parenthesis:)


Burrow has been sifting as his wrist rebounds and Browning has been engineering when Seamless Joe gets a break.

Woodside and Lombardi are probably trying to hammer out a practice squad spot. Woodside, one of the last three draft picks of the pre-Zac Taylor era, returns with gobs of practice snaps since 2018. He's played in seven games for two teams while completing four of seven passes and has the clear edge on experience. But let the preseason games begin.


Higgins, their franchise player, doesn't figure to be here this week. Chase said he plans to be. The question isn't who's the next four, but how much are they going to play and how much are they going to use guys like Jones, Irwin, and Burton in the slot. Iosivas flashed he can be more than a No. 4. Can the Div. III great story Burgess crack the practice squad?

Here's a recurring theme at pretty much every spot but maybe linebacker, where they have quite young potential backups. It appears their depth is elite enough that they could have at least one extra quality roster player at each spot. Other than punter, the best shot an undrafted rookie has at making the 53 is probably linebacker.


The draft picks All (ACL) and McLachlan (soft tissue) won't work this week, but McLachlan figures to be cleared for training camp and All could be ticketed to start the season on the physically unable to perform list (PUP). They remain bully on those guys and have three solid vets in front of them.

This is where you start getting into numbers games with injuries here and at other spots, as well as how the preseason plays out. The Opening-Day-Roster-CW is 25 players on each offense and defense with four tight ends


The top four are vets of various roles and you would think the NFL's new kickoff rule, which pretty much dictates having two returners, would justify keeping at least four backs. Depending on how the rule goes, will they at one point think they need a fifth back?


RT Trent Brown (10), C Ted Karras (9), LT Orlando Brown Jr. (7), RG Alex Cappa (7), G-T Cody Ford (6), T Jackson Carman (4), C-G Trey Hill (4), T D'Ante Smith (4), LG Cordell Volson (3), T Devin Cochran (2), C Nate Gilliam (1), G Jaxon Kirkland (1), C Matt Lee (R), RT Eric Miller (R), RT Amarius Mims (R).

The big question appears to be how long do they let the first-round pick Mims develop behind Trent Brown. First guy off the bench looks to be Ford and it is shaping up to be a vet-rookie battle between Hill and the seventh-round pick Lee for back-up center. Vet backups Carman and Smith are in it for the next tackle spot and maybe the last roster slot.


Chalk says they go into Opening Day with 10 defensive linemen, 10 defensive backs, and five linebackers. But this year is a little different with the kickoff rule favoring linebackers over defensive backs and the Bengals having some intriguing options in the secondary with players who could potentially swing between cornerback and safety and count as two spots.

DJ Reader isn't here, but the defensive line still ranks as one of their positions of strength. If you go five edge and five tackles, there are some quality players battling for a spot. Rankins and Hill give them a different look inside, but both are solid playoff vets with the big questions how fast do the rookies Jenkins and Jackson develop behind them. No such questions on the edge, where they expect more solid play from Sample, Murphy to take a monstrous step after a solid rookie year, and Ossai to bust out with an injury-free camp beckoning.


With Markus Bailey not returning, vets Bachie and Harper are looking to hold off Casey and Njongmeta, an interesting undrafted but productive Big Ten tandem that could make a dent on special teams.


S Vonn Bell (9), CB Mike Hilton (8), CB Jalen Davis (5), S Geno Stone (5), S Tycen Anderson (3), CB Dax Hill (3), CB Cam Taylor-Britt (3), S Jordan Battle (2), CB DJ Ivey (2), CB DJ Turner II (2), CB Allan George (1), S Daijahn Anthony (R), S Michael Dowell (R), S PJ Jules (R), CB Josh Newton (R), CB Lance Robinson (R).

Injuries figure to play a role here. Ivey (ACL) looks to be headed to PUP. Anderson (ACL)has looked good in his rehab and has about a month head start on Ivey, so that's up in the air.

What's not is Bell, Stone, and Battle give them the experience at safety they didn't have last year and Taylor-Britt and Turner return with their torrid speed on the corner complemented by Hilton's lethal experience in the slot.

The rookie Newton is trying to prove he's a versatile sort inside and out, Hill adds his 4.3 speed to the corner as well as his experience at safety, and Davis always seems to fight for a job and win. Anthony, the seventh-round safety, may bring some nickel flexibility he'll have to show them in the preseason games.


McNamara has the leg, Robbins has the experience.