Hobson's Choice: Numbers Game

Q: If Chris Perry is not ready to go or put on the IR, they need to keep DeDe Dorsey around because he looks good out there on the field. What do you think?
** --Rick V., Batavia, OH

RICK:** It looks like Perry is headed to PUP, not IR. Dorsey looks good, I agree. Great kid, wonderful story, but let's see him play in the first half. Until then, I think you'd have to lean to Quincy Wilson but there are two games left.

The physically unable to perform list (PUP) puts a player out for the first six games of the season and he doesn't count on the 53-man roster. Injured reserve puts him out for the year, but Perry isn't hurt that badly.

Yet Perry's absence means they don't have a pounder behind Rudi Johnson. When Perry goes on PUP, they will most likely keep three tailbacks in addition to fullback Jeremi Johnson.

Rudi is the first tailback. Kenny Watson is the second tailback because he's a valued pass protector on third down as well as a good catcher. When he's healthy, he produces. Plain and simple.

So the No. 3 comes down to Wilson, in his third year in the league, and Dorsey, a rookie free agent.

If, heaven forbid, Rudi went down for a game or two, Watson's durability would probably prevent him from being a bellcow. Plus, he's too valuable on third down and special teams. The 215-pound Wilson is more cut out than the 210-pound Dorsey to pound it for 20 times a game.

And no knock on Dorsey. He's probably got better hands than Wilson and although he's not as explosive as Perry, he has shown some dynamic moves you'd love to keep around.

But with Perry down, I think they need some Rudi insurance and Wilson makes the most sense.

Now, Jeremi Johnson can also play some tailback in spots (and they could put tight end Tony Stewart at fullback), but I'm not sure they'd want to do that for any long stretch.

(You've got to love the 5-11 Dorsey, though. One day this week he wanted to know why the media is writing that he's 196 pounds. Well, that's what is listed in the media guide and, besides, he looks even lighter than that.

He said, "I'm 210." So I told him, "Get out of here, you're nuts," and he dragged me over to the locker room scale: 209.8.

He runs with it well.

Q: Given the injuries to Bauman and Mitchell, do you think the Bengals need to pick up a veteran safety to have in case of injury to Jackson or Williams?

Kaesviharn is good in certain packages and on teams but I think last year revealed that he is not the answer as a full time safety. Kilmer, Busing, and Jones are too raw at this point. The only other answer would seem to be asking Ratliff to help out at safety again and the reduced depth at CB due to the injury to Bauman makes that harder to do.

Are we looking at safeties (as well as TEs) now on the waiver wire or in a trade?
**--Rich, Tampa FL

RICH:** They're always looking at the waiver wire, but at this point it's looking to replace the last guy at any position. You won't find a No. 1 or No. 2 tight end, or any other answers on the wire or in a trade at this date.

Look at what was on the wire last year when their starting safeties went down: Ohalete. So there's no magic on the wire.

You're probably better off sticking with what you've got if you have injuries. You'd have to trade for a third safety better than Kaesviharn and why do that? He can also play corner, he knows the defense, and if the guy you're getting isn't good enough to start, what are you getting? Yes, Kaesviharn isn't an every down player, but he's a solid situational guy. The brutal fact is if your starters go down, there will be a drop off no matter if it is a waiver wire guy or a guy on your own club.

I disagree on Jones. It looks like he's ready to be a fourth safety. He's got good range and can run. Plus, you would have to use Ratliff at safety if you got hit with injuries. You've got two good backup cover cornerbacks in Johnathan Joseph and Greg Brooks.

Q: I'm trying to memorize players' numbers so that when I watch the games I will know who is who. What is confusing me is the numbers don't always match up with the position. I looked on NFL.com and could find nothing on the subject and there is no search function on the site. Could you please help me and explain the rules of which players can get which numbers?
**--Wayne, Miamisburg,OH

WAYNE:** From the desk of Bengals equipment manager Rob Recker:

Quarterbacks and kickers are in single digits and teens. Wide receivers are preferably in the 80s, but can be in teens if there is an overflow. Running backs and defensive backs are in 20s, 30s, 40s.

Linebackers are in 50s and 90s. Tight ends must be in 80s if on active roster and they are available. If not they can be in the 40s. Centers are preferably in 50s, if not then they are in 60s and 70s like the rest of the offensive line. Defensive line is from 60s to 90s.

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