For the next five days we're taking a look at Cincinnati Bengals who could be on the dreaded training camp roster bubble later this summer. These are players whom we think you should expect to see fighting for spots when the eventual 75-man preseason roster gets trimmed to the regular-season 53.
As permitted by league rules, the roster currently stands at 89.
We're not going in any particular order. After looking last week at Taylor Mays, Brandon Tate, J.K. Schaffer, Cobi Hamilton, Rex Burkhead and James Wilder Jr., we open this week by looking at linebacker Dontay Moch:
Why he's on the bubble: An offseason addition, Moch is on his second stint with the Bengals after being claimed off waivers from Arizona. He gets "bubble" treatment in part because he was let go by the organization before and could easily get cut again. Another reason he should be under bubble watch has to do with the position he plays. Although the Bengals list him as an outside linebacker, Moch said earlier this offseason that he expected to be used at defensive end, too. Any action he gets at defensive end likely would center upon him being a stand-up pass-rusher, and would come in defensive sets when the Bengals want to add a little extra length to the line's edge. His role isn't as well defined as the ones some of the other true ends and linebackers have, but if played correctly, his position could be one of the more important ones on the defense as the Bengals try to confuse opposing offenses with changing fronts.
What he has to do to get off the bubble: Moch has to prove in training camp that his hybrid end-outside linebacker duties are necessary in the Bengals' defense. He has to do that in part by playing quickly and athletically at the line of scrimmage, providing a fast rush off the outside edge when he's asked to do so. With ends such as Carlos Dunlap, Wallace Gilberry, Margus Hunt, Robert Geathers and Will Clarke already in the fold, Moch's line duties aren't necessary. So in order to avoid being released again, he'll have to make sure they know how much an advantage his rush ability can provide the defense as it tries to constantly change up its looks.
Odds he makes the team: 50/50. Moch's role doesn't appear to be a flat-out necessity for the Bengals, but it would be a good one to have in their arsenal. If he does enough in the preseason to prove he can execute the hybrid gig that's set aside for him, the Bengals will use a roving end/linebacker at times this season. It seems Moch and fellow free agency add Sam Montgomery are competing for the same job, meaning there's a good chance Cincinnati will be employing an extra rush end and occasional outside backer to bolster the pass-defense efforts. Since it looks like he's directly competing with Montgomery, 50/50 odds in this case make sense. They also make sense because as much as the Bengals might like to have a player who can do what they'll want Moch to do, again, they still don't need such a player if it simply doesn't work out in training camp.