Bengals: Post-Week 2 Projected 53-Man Roster

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Jan 4, 2015; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive end

Margus Hunt

(99) against the Indianapolis Colts during the 2014 AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Defensive End (4): Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap, Wallace Gilberry, Will Clarke

Defensive end is the first position where Cincinnati will really have to cut ties with a player with whom it had high hopes. Margus Hunt was the team’s second-round draft selection in 2013, but at age 28 and with limited production, the team has likely seen enough. The Bengals drafted Will Clarke in 2014 as a replacement, likely knowing it would have to cut ties with Hunt this season if he didn’t show progress–which he hasn’t.

The only way I could see Hunt making this roster is if Cincinnati cuts Wallace Gilberry or Domata Peko, which just isn’t going to happen. Even if they cut one of the aforementioned players, the Bengals would be better suited in keeping an additional running back, wide receiver, linebacker or defensive back.

Sam Montgomery will be a good candidate for the practice squad at defensive end.

Defensive Tackle (5): Geno Atkins, Domata Peko, Brandon Thompson, Pat Sims, Marcus Hardison

Aug 24, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Geno Atkins anchors the best offensive line in the AFC North, a unit that could be even better if it utilized Brandon Thompson and Pat Sims rather than starter Domata Peko.

The Bengals have kept Peko in the starting lineup due to his leadership ability, but Peko’s playing time seriously needs to diminish if Cincinnati wants to see improvement on defense.

Cincinnati suffers two more casualties along the defensive line, as fan favorite Devon Still is released and preseason standout DeShawn Williams is signed to the practice squad, where he is ultimately poached by a defensive tackle-needy team who recognizes Williams’ potential (perhaps the New York Giants, whose shaky offensive line had a face-to-face look at the impressive Williams before he blasted through it on several plays throughout the game).

As mentioned, Cincinnati will likely try to stash DeShawn Williams on the practice squad; I think another team will sign Williams to its 53-man roster, though. There is a surprising amount of defensive tackle-needy teams in the NFL.

Linebacker (7): Rey Maualuga, Emmanuel Lamur, A.J. Hawk, Vincent Rey, P.J. Dawson, Marquis Flowers, Chris Carter

Vontaze Burfict, Cincinnati’s best linebacker, will start the season out on the PUP list. When he returns, he would likely replace Chris Carter (or Nico Johnson, if the Bengals decide to keep him over Carter).

Cincinnati’s starting linebackers have been boring to watch, but the backups have been the most impressive of the team’s roster bubble players.

Nico Johnson, Marquis Flowers, Chris Carter and P.J. Dawson have all turned heads this preseason with impressive play; however, I give Chris Carter the nod over Nico Johnson for the final linebacker spot. Johnson has had a nice preseason, but Chris Carter’s versatility (Carter has lined up at defensive end in Cincinnati’s nickel packages) could prove useful for the Bengals.

Nico Johnson will likely end up on the practice squad (Carter would be on the practice squad if Johnson wins out the final linebacker spot). Jayson DiManche and Sean Porter will also make the practice squad.

Cornerback (5): Leon Hall, Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, Josh Shaw

Nothing exciting here. Bengals fans hope to see Kirkpatrick and Dennard on the field as much as possible in 2015, and Kirkpatrick should start at LCB which is always exciting.

Troy Hill barely misses the roster; he could get stashed on the practice squad but could get picked up by a cornerback-needy team.

Safety (4): Reggie Nelson, George Iloka, Shawn Williams, Derron Smith

The Bengals have an exciting group at safety; the only surprise that could come here would be Shiloh Keo jumping Shawn Williams for a spot on the roster. However, given Williams’ youth, it would be hard for me to imagine Keo earning a spot on the roster, despite the fact that he’s been impressive this preseason.

Floyd Raven could make the practice squad at safety, but it’s unlikely.

Next: Practice Squad, My Dream Scenario