Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis went the unprecedented route 90 minutes before Thursday night's pre-season finale against the Colts at Paul Brown Stadium and offered no line-up changes or announcements.
That's because there are just too many with virtually no starters expected to play before Saturday's final roster cut to 53 players. With the release of cornerback Darius Hillary hours before the game, that left 85 players to sort through. The lone starter who ends up playing is probably right guard Trey Hopkins as he continues his battle for the Opening Day nod with Alex Redmond. At some point they'll probably play next to each other when Hopkins moves to center. Veteran T.J. Johnson, a six-year vet in a fierce fight to stick, probably starts at center.
Injuries are clouding the game and the ensuing cuts. With wide receiver Cody Core (back) and rookie cornerback Davontae Harris (knee) missing last Sunday's game and not expected to play against the Colts, the Bengals could be faced with keeping them on the 53-man Saturday and then on Sunday moving them to injured reserve with the ability to recall them at the midway point of the season. A player has to be on the initial roster to qualify as an IR-recall and a team can recall only two IR players each season.
The battles to watch tonight are joined: Matt Barkley vs. Jeff Driskel for back-up quarterback. Rookie wide receiver Auden Tate vs. the temptation to keep just five wide receivers. Undrafted rookie Trayvon Henderson vs. sophomore special teams maven Brandon Wilson at safety. With rookie returner Darius Phillips returning well enough to probably join the three starters, KeiVarae Russell, slot man Tony McRae and C.J. Goodwin could possibly be grinding for the last couple of cornerback spots.