Spots On The Line As Bengals Rest and Vet

Plan on rookie wide receiver Ventell Bryant getting a ton of snaps in Thursday night's pre-season finale.
Plan on rookie wide receiver Ventell Bryant getting a ton of snaps in Thursday night's pre-season finale.

Since he plans to sit so many players in Thursday night's pre-season finale against the Colts at Paul Brown Stadium, Bengals head coach Zac Taylor just said to heck with it before the game and didn't bother to list the guys he doesn't expect to play.

The operative word emerged as "many." As in there are expected to be "many," line-up changes and "many," players weren't expected to play. That means the starters and a slew of regulars set for the Sept. 8 regular-season opener in Seattle were going to watch Thursday while some of the last roster spots may (or may not be) decided.

Undrafted rookie Jake Dolegala figured to get the bulk of the snaps and got the start. With Jeff Driskel (hamstring) and starter Andy Dalton (no way) not expected to play, the Bengals were down to two quarterbacks.

Some players that are expected to make the Opening Day roster (rookie running back Rodney Anderson, cornerback Darius Phillips, safety Brandon Wilson) dressed Thursday because they're in positions not blessed with great numbers, although maybe first-year player Quinton Flowers and rookie Jordan Ellis could split the carries at running back. But look for Anderson to get some work since he's only been back to practice for two weeks.

Since they have only five tackles (one of them wasn't expected to play in rookie O'Shea Dugas because of a knee injury), it will be interesting to see not only who is playing, but where. With left tackle Cordy Glenn in concussion protocol, back-up Andre Smith is off limits. Eight offensive line spots look to be locked up, but teams usually keep nine. Billy Price, considered the first man off the bench at guard or center, was dressed Thursday but they'd probably like to keep him on the bench and only dressed him in case of an emergency. Of the potential eight to make it, back-up left guard John Jerry joined Price as the only ones dressed. So look for Justin Evans to get plenty of snaps at right tackle and Jerry working at left tackle for awhile. Rookie Keaton Sutherland looks to get the start at center with Alex Redmond and Brad Lundblade figuring to gets reps at guard. Also dressed was Christian Westerman, the guard who hasn't practiced since he left the team two weeks ago for personal reasons and returned late last week.

Just seeing who plays and who doesn't may be a tip on who is in the competitive the scrum at wide receiver, where they're expected to keep seven. One of them expected to stay is Auden Tate (knee), not expected to play Thursday. Another injured receiver not assured of a spot, rookie Stanley Morgan, also wasn't expected to play.

They won't play wide receiver Alex Erickson, their No. 1 return man. And Taylor has said he won't play rookie Damion Willis, because he's starting in ten days against the Seahawks. That also deleted Tyler Boyd Another possible starter. John Ross is out, too, since he just returned to practice last Sunday and could be the No. 3 vs. Seattle. So only four wide receivers were, dressed, meaning veterans like Cody Core and Josh Malone were going to play a ton Thursday night and maybe that figures into a roster decision.

In their last look at players before they cut the roster to 53 on Saturday, the Bengals were hoping the one position that shines is linebacker, where the young players haven't performed as well as hoped. Safety Trayvon Henderson hasn't played as well as he did last preseason before tearing his ACL in this game, but if he makes a few plays then maybe he gets some run as a nickel linebacker.

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