Updated: 5:20 p.m.
The Bengals were still digesting the release of wide receiver Antonio Bryant before Monday afternoon's practice with most surprised it happened because of the estimated $7.8 million they already gave him for signing a four-year deal back in March.
"Yeah, I was surprised it happened so soon because of all the money they gave him," said wide receiver Andre Caldwell. "You could tell he was bothered by (his knee injury). He was bothered by it now. Hopefully he'll be able to get healthy as soon as possible. It opens a spot for everybody."
Caldwell didn't look to be one of those on the bubble even when Bryant was penciled in to make it. One clue is that he felt he could have played Saturday night in Buffalo but the club wanted him to rest a pulled abdominal muscle and he expects to go full speed in Monday's practice.
Quarterback Carson Palmer said of the Bryant cut that "I was probably just as surprised as he was," but he likes what he sees beyond Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens.
"It's a very good corps," Palmer said. "Obviously the two big guys, but there are good young guys behind them working hard to make a roster spot. Andre Caldwell who's made big plays for us in big games, and we've got a good tight end group, too."
The five guys that look to be battling for the last two spots behind The Ocho, Owens, Caldwell and Jordan Shipley are a cross-section of the NFL population as they head into Thursday's preseason finale in Indianapolis and this Saturday's final cut to 53 from 75.
There are the two high-round picks in the tall, talented Jerome Simpson and Matt Jones trying to shed the "bust" label. Quan Cosby, the most productive of the group this preseason of the Gang of Five, is trying to hang on to a roster he made last season as a free-agent rookie punt returner. Maurice Purify is a big physical special teams standout that has missed the last three games with knee tendinitis. Dez Briscoe is a sixth-round pick that has impressed with route running that is beyond the 21 years he turns Tuesday.
"In the preseason they work on different things. They call the plays and we run them. That's all I know," said Jones, who has four catches in four games. "I believe I'm talented enough (to stick in the NFL). I'm getting better each day being around Chad and T.O. and being able to watch them. I'm 27. I feel like I've got five years left."
JEANTY CUT:Backup SAM linebacker Rashad Jeanty, an Ed Block Courage Award winner who was one of the toughest Bengals ever, was waived injured Monday. The Bengals got down to the roster limit of 75 about 30 hours before Tuesday's 4 p.m. deadline when they placed safety Tom Nelson (knee) on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) to start the season.
Jeanty never got back on the field after breaking his fibula on the opening kickoff of the Wild Card game against the Jets. He had a medical procedure in the spring and when the Bengals went to training camp he headed to Florida for rehab and returned two weeks ago when the club broke camp.
Jeanty played three seasons in the CFL before signing with the Bengals in January 2006.
Nelson, who made the club as a rookie free agent out of Illinois State last season, injured his knee late and also hasn't been able to get on the field. He now won't be able to practice for the first six weeks of the regular season.
PURIFY REPORT: ESPN.com reports that Maurice Purify has been suspended by the NFL for a game for his May arrest for disorderly conduct. He may not serve it in Cincinnati. After missing the last three games because of knee tendinitis and the emergence of Jerome Simpson and Quan Cosby, Purify is very much on the bubble.
SLANTS AND SCREENS
» Adam Jones arrived with the rep as an elite punt returner and he would seem to have won the No. 1 job since he's been the first guy back there. But he has turned into a terror as a kick returner. His runs of 51 and 39 yards set up the club's two touchdowns Saturday night.
"I like them both; no preference," said Jones, who indicated he's OK after leaving the game with knee and neck problems. "Yeah, I'm having fun. But it would be a lot more fun if I can get into the end zone."
» Special teams captain Kyries Hebert, who hardly plays from scrimmage, played plenty Saturday night as he tries to move off the bubble and he was upset with how he played.
"If it were me, I don't think I'd be here after my last performance on defense. I was very disappointed in what I put on film," Hebert said. "I lost contain on a couple of plays. At this stage in my career I should never allow that to happen. You can't just want to be a special teams guy your whole life. I want to do more to help my team."
» Fullback Fui Vakapuna (shoulder) hasn't played in a game and he's waiting to see when the trainers clear him. It wasn't Monday as he still worked on the side. Last year on cutdown day he was released in favor of Jeremi Johnson and Chris Pressley. This year, he had the job to himself until he got hurt.
"This is something I really don't have control over, so it's different than last year and I'm just hoping that I'm close to getting back," he said.
INJURY REPORT: Center Kyle Cook missed Monday's practice with a boot on his foot. He did leave the Denver game two weeks ago with a sprained ankle but hasn't missed a game since. Running back Brian Leonard (foot) looked great in rehab and was running some routes with rehab trainer Nick Cosgray throwing him some curious passes.
There were many more defensive players shelved for a practice in helmets and shorts. The defense did get back safety Roy Williams (ankle), cornerback Morgan Trent (ankle), and tackle Tank Johnson (unknown) after they missed all last week. Dan Skuta (ankle) worked with the linebackers after missing the last two games. But also staying on the shelf were defensive linemen Frostee Rucker (hamstring), Robert Geathers (foot) and safety Chinedum Ndukwe (unknown).
New on the list were lineman Carlos Dunlap (knee), cornerback Adam Jones (neck), and cornerback Brandon Ghee (head). Jones seemed OK as he busied himself catching balls for secondary coach Kevin Coyle during drills.