Bengals Roster: Realistic expectations for Josh Tupou in 2023

Jan 29, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Josh Tupou (68) and
Jan 29, 2023; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Josh Tupou (68) and / Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

After going undrafted in the 2017 NFL Draft, Colorado's Josh Tupou signed with the Cincinnati Bengals as an undrafted free agent. He's remained with the Bengals ever since.

During his rookie season, Tupou appeared in just one game but then appeared in six in 2018 and then all 16 games in 2019 while making seven starts. He opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic but returned in 2021 and played in all 17 games and made nine starts.

This past season, Tupou once again appeared in double-digit games and started six games with 19 tackles, three QB hits, and two sacks during that time. The former Colorado Buff is returning for his sixth season in Cincinnati so what can fans expect from him in year six?

What should Bengals fans expect from Josh Tupou in 2023?

The Bengals' starting defensive line is set with Sam Hubbard, DJ Reader, BJ Hill, and Trey Hendrickson lining up in the trenches. Tupou is a nice depth piece but if he had to start more than a few games it means that injuries occured to the starting unit and that's not ideal.

Tupou projects as the backup to Reader at nose tackle. The reason he started six games in 2022 was because Reader missed time with an injury. The situation could certainly be worse, as Tupou was fine filling in for Reader. It's hard to replace what Reader can do, especially in stuffing the run but Tupou has been with the team for awhile and knows the system pretty well.

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Tupou finished the 2022 season with an overall PFF grade of 56.4, so again, it could be worse. The Bengals are in good hands with Josh Tupou as a backup.