Hobson's Choice: Taking note of Quincy

What do you think are the percentages that the Bengals will keep 3 or 4 RB this year. And why .
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John: Weirton WV

JOHN:**
This sounds like a Quincy Wilson question and with good reason. Not only is Weirton listed as his hometown, but the Bengals like him and he should be at the center of one of the biggest training camp battles with Kenny Watson as each tries to become the third and last running back on the 53-man roster.

In his previous two seasons, head coach Marvin Lewis has been happy with three running backs and one fullback. That leaves room for six wide receivers, five of which are usually active on game day.

Three running backs ought to be plenty this time around, too, particularly if Chris Perry is healthy. Plus, a slimmed-down version of fullback Jeremi Johnson showed in the spring drills that he could take some competent snaps at running back. And Rudi Johnson, always riding the bike, has to be sandblasted out of the huddle as evidenced by last season's club-record 361 carries

Perry (who is not going to get cut) can not only spell Johnson, but conventional wisdom is that his skills as a receiver suggest he would at least split the third-down snaps with Watson or be the outright third-down back. Whether that would make things easier for Wilson to make it remains to be seen.

Wilson, who averaged 5.5 yards per on nearly 500 carries at West Virginia, is a 5-9, 225-pound-Rudi-type that is going to pepper you and blast you with a low-slung, straight-ahead style. After the Falcons took him in the seventh round last year, they put him on the practice squad until the Bengals plucked him from there late last season.

If Wilson, 24, plays well in the pre-season games, it's certainly a dilemma. Watson is a very valued guy around here. He's tough, reliable, has good hands, and does all the things a good third-down back can do. Plus, the man, very simply, gets yards. In 142 NFL carries over three seasons, Watson, 27, has averaged 4.9 yards per run.

He's got to have an edge on Wilson simply because of his production and experience in the NFL. But Wilson had a good enough spring that a lot of people are looking forward to his summer.

I guess they could always keep four running backs and one fullback, but where would they go light on offense?

Not at tight end or quarterback, with three guys each. Not at receiver, where three-man sets are a huge part of quarterback Carson Palmer's arsenal and dictate keeping six instead of just five wideouts.

And, probably not on the offensive line, where they may have to keep 10 instead of nine. Four of their line starters are coming off injury-plagued seasons, so you got to have some kind of cushion there numbers-wise.

The tenth guy may very well end up being rookie center Ben Wilkerson. If he looks good in preseason, they would no doubt lose him if they cut him and tried to re-sign him to the practice squad.

So, at the moment anyway, the best guess is they go with three RBs, one FB, three QBs, three TEs, six WRs, 10 OL for 26 players on offense. On defense, figure eight DL, seven LBs, nine DBs for 24. Three specialists (punter, kicker, long snapper) give you a 53-man roster.

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