Roster Look: Bengals Mull Final Cuts To Complete Offseason Overhaul 

Jacques Patrick (31) in action against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first preseason game.
Jacques Patrick (31) in action against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first preseason game.

The Bengals cut it down to 53 Tuesday, a dozen days ahead of Mike Zimmer's Vikings coming into Paul Brown Stadium to open the season at 1 p.m. on Sept. 12.

The deadline is 4 p.m., and head coach Zac Taylor is going to talk about his new roster at 4:15 p.m., but those are just official times. Word is going to leak once the players are informed in the early afternoon and no doubt they'll churn the waiver wire for the next few days beyond Tuesday afternoon.

Beyond the scrums at wide receiver, running back and now defensive tackle, what's always interesting on a day like this one is the battle between youth and experience and the continuity from one season to the next. Once the dust clears, Taylor could very well have more than 40 players that he's brought in since he arrived in 2019.

One person's guess on a last look at the roster before it becomes the roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

Brandon Allen (5), Joe Burrow (2), Kyle Shurmur (1)

Allen played a lot better Sunday than he did the week before. His 29-yard touchdown pass to rookie running back Chris Evans is more like the guy that last season is believed to have become the first Bengals quarterback to complete 69.4 percent of his passes while hitting better than 70 percent twice in his first four starts with Cincinnati.

Shurmur also played better than last week, but let's see if it is good enough to keep him around on the practice squad. His longest pass on Sunday came off a deflection that went for 45 yards.

WIDE RECEIVERS (9)

Tyler Boyd (6), Mike Thomas (6), Trent Taylor (5), Auden Tate (4), Stanley Morgan Jr. (3), Tee Higgins (2), Trenton Irwin (1), Scotty Washington (1), Ja'Marr Chase (R)

The big call here seems to be the number. Six? Seven? Last year they kept seven. Doesn't it seem like the next guy behind The Big Four (Higgins, Boyd, Chase, Tate) is Thomas, considering he played just 30 percent of Sunday's snaps and Pro Football Focus gave him the third highest grade on Sunday's offense? The coaches very clearly value him like that.

Morgan also seems to have a spot as a special teamer even though he had a ball go off his hands Sunday. He doesn't make the plays from scrimmage like Irwin, but he did have 10 yards after he caught his 13-yarder. Irwin doesn't have Morgan's special teams expertise, but on Sunday he played half the time in the slot and the other half outside while Taylor had all but two of his snaps inside. Now that Darius Phillips has the punt return job, can Taylor overcome the versatility of Morgan and Irwin?

RUNNING BACKS (6)

Joe Mixon (5), Samaje Perine (5), Trayveon Williams (3), Jacques Patrick (1), Chris Evans (R), Pooka Williams Jr. (R)

Three or four? Except for the injured Pooka Williams, those behind Mixon, Perine and Evans have produced. If they stick with the most productive players, it's hard to argue against keeping the 230-pound Patrick. He's had 108 yards after contact this preseason, according to PFF.

But Trayveon Williams runs hard, too. All but four of his 40 yards came after contact on Sunday. Williams has had a nagging history of injuries and a hamstring issue kept him sidelined this preseason until Sunday. They certainly can't keep five and maybe not even four. But they are five NFL backs.

TIGHT ENDS (5)

C.J. Uzomah (7), Mason Schreck (4), Drew Sample (3), Thaddeus Moss (2), Mitchell Wilcox (1)

It's been a long hot summer looking for the consistent No. 3 guy when it came to all phases. Wilcox looked to be on the verge until a concussion knocked him out after nine snaps on Sunday, although PFF still made him the offense's top graded player against Miami.

The quarterbacks and coaches love Moss' reliability in the pass game, but he's considered small for what an all-around NFL tight end has to do. Still, on Sunday he was their leading receiver and was good enough to come out of it as PFF's fifth best blocker in the run game. Schreck had a holding penalty on Sunday and one catch in three games.

OFFENSIVE LINE (14)

T Riley Reiff (10), G Xavier Su'a-Filo (8), G Quinton Spain (7), C-G Trey Hopkins (6), T Fred Johnson (3), G Michael Jordan (3), G-T Keaton Sutherland (3), T Jonah Williams (3), G-T Hakeem Adeniji (2), T Isaiah Prince (2), G-T Jackson Carman (R), G-C Trey Hill (R), T D'Ante Smith (R) T Gunnar Vogel (R)

The trade of backup center Billy Price to the Giants for defensive tackle B.J. Hill indicates they have Trey Hill as the No. 2 behind Trey Hopkins. It also shows they've got no concerns with the 29-year-old Hopkins despite playing three snaps since the ACL surgery of just seven months ago. Just because he was a first-round pick, don't underestimate the value of Price coming off the bench at center. But here's the thing. Hill can play all three inside spots.

When they flanked Hill with Smith on the left and Carman on the right during the first half Sunday, it gave you the sense they believe in these kids. The question remains, how quickly? Maybe not the opener, but when?

By most accounts, Carman and Smith keep improving and the PFF grades put them in the offense's top eight on Sunday. Jordan didn't see time until the second half and Taylor keeps talking about how he needs to be more consistent.

Prince and Johnson seem to be doing just fine as the third and fourth tackles. According to PFF, Prince has allowed three pressures on 99 pass blocks. Johnson has allowed one hurry on 49 pass blocks. No sacks.

Smith's move to guard has jammed up the numbers in the interior. Price's trade has alleviated some of that, but if they don't think the young guys are quite ready yet, does that mean they go with ten O-linemen and light somewhere else (wide receiver?) on offense?

DEFENSIVE LINE (17)

T Mike Daniels (10), NT D.J. Reader (6), E Trey Hendrickson (5), T Larry Ogunjobi (5), E Noah Spence (5), T B.J. Hill (4), E Sam Hubbard (4), NT Josh Tupou (4), T Kahlil McKenzie (3), NT Renell Wren (3), E Amani Bledsoe (2), E Khalid Kareem (2), E Darius Hodge (R) Wyatt Hubert (R), E Joseph Ossai (R), E Cam Sample (R), T Tyler Shelvin (R)

The addition of Hill backing up Ogunjobi at the three technique has jammed up things in the interior. The thinking is they're going to keep five tackles and five edgers, so they may end up letting go some very good inside players. Who would have thought the tackle spot would have been teeming with so much depth? At this time last year they needed to trade bubble linebacker Austin Calitro for D-Tackle Christian Covington, a guy that made 14 starts.

They're probably trying to do the opposite now before the deadline. Hill's 7.5 career sacks in 48 games and his youth (26) was a very nice get 13 days before the season starts.

As deep as the middle is, the edge is just as thin as they grapple with the loss of Ossai. They've got to hope Kareem (shoulder) is OK after he had a season debut as spectacular as Ossai's with two pressures on his first three snaps before leaving after playing just 11 downs against Miami.

How many people thought Hodge would be the one undrafted rookie they'd keep behind Hubbard, Hendrickson and Sample? Not here, but how do you keep him off the roster? Never mind Ossai (knee) may be lost for the year, but according to PFF Hodge has uncorked 11 pressures on 63 rushes.

Hodge and Spence had a shot to finish off the Dolphins Sunday on fourth-and-15 and neither could finalize two very good rushes. Spence lined up for 14 passes after he got into camp at the beginning of the week and he looked active and quick with two pressures while he was also kicking off rust after not playing last year with an ACL. You figure this position is going to see some more new faces before the opener.

LINEBACKERS (7)

Jordan Evans (5), Germaine Pratt (3), Joe Bachie (2), Markus Bailey (2), Akeem Davis-Gaither (2), Logan Wilson (2), Keandre Jones (1)

They're probably pretty comfortable keeping five here but you've got to figure that all of these guys stick either on the practice squad or the roster. According to PFF, they didn't play as well as they did in the previous two games, when four backers were graded in the defense's top 11 players. Overall, though, this group has spent the preseason taking solid steps.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (14)

SS Ricardo Allen (7), CB Trae Waynes (7), CB Eli Apple (6), SS Vonn Bell (6), CB Chidobe Awuzie (5), CB Tony Brown (5), CB Mike Hilton (5), SS Brandon Wilson (5), CB Darius Phillips (4), FS Jessie Bates III (3), CB Jalen Davis (2), SS Trayvon Henderson (2), CB Winston Rose (1), CB Antonio Phillips (R)

Davis stepped up to make the club, didn't he? He finished off his brilliant preseason with what PFF described as playing press coverage on 21 snaps and not getting targeted.

As disconcerting as Waynes' injured hamstring (typically four to six weeks recovery and he's a week in), they can turn to another former first-rounder in Apple to start the opener on the corner opposite Awuzie. After he battled a hamstring issue in camp, they kept him out Sunday like all the Opening Day starters on defense. They also got Phillips out of there as the game went on to keep him healthy despite the dwindling number of cover guys.

As the Adam Jones decade taught us, you can't have enough first-round cornerbacks and how many teams can turn to a guy like Apple, the 10th pick in the draft with 48 NFL starts? At backup safety, Wilson, their top special teamer, got off the deck early on Sunday and looks OK while Allen played his first 17 snaps as a Bengal on Sunday.

SPECIALISTS (5)

LS Clark Harris (13), P Kevin Huber (13), K Austin Seibert (3), P Drue Chrisman (R), K Evan McPherson (R).

The social media gag is they've already got a Ring of Honor spot reserved for McPherson after Sunday's 57-yard warning shot to the AFC North. Let's just get him a couple of nice field-goal attempts in the opener, the first by a Bengals rookie kicker since Neil Rackers opened PBS in 2000.

While he works his first, Harris and Huber should be making things easier for him in their 12th opener together.

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