CINCINNATI -- With organized team activities beginning to end for the Cincinnati Bengals, we are winding down our position-by-position look at where their offseason roster currently stands.
We started at quarterback, wondering if Andy Dalton really could be pushed by his three backups. Then we looked at running back, where we explored the feasibility of using a true fullback this year. We also questioned whether or not Marvin Jones and Mario Alford could be difference-makers at receiver. We then asked if the Bengals had enough time to build depth under Tyler Eifert, followed by an inquiry about the help Russell Bodine needs on the offensive line's interior. Next was an exploration into the consistency the Bengals have at offensive tackle with Andrew Whitworth and Andre Smith in the final years of their current deals.
On Tuesday, we looked into how Michael Johnson's free-agency addition could help Cincinnati's fledgling pass rush.
Let's continue at defensive tackle, where we ask: What can the Bengals do to get Geno Atkins back to Pro Bowl form?
Expected DT rotation: There are many in Who Dey Nation who wish the words "expected DT rotation" and "Peko" would not be in the same sentence. But as bothered as they may be, perhaps rightfully, regarding the veteran's on-again, off-again knack for producing, he still factors very heavily into the Bengals' rotation at defensive tackle. As a matter of fact, just as he has for much of his Bengals career, Peko will be looking at legitimate playing time this fall next to Atkins. On occasion, it will come down to Peko and the defensive ends to generate enough push on certain pass-rushing downs to open up lanes for Atkins to go through. That all happened in 2012 when Atkins had a career-high 12.5 sacks.
Thompson also figures to factor heavily into the base formation as a backup behind Peko and Atkins, and also as a key contributor in certain short-yardage or run-stopping scenarios. Hardison could be paired with Thompson as another alternate in relief of Peko and Atkins. Either Sims or Still would be next on that list, with Geathers, Williams and Pole likely competing for practice squad roster spots.
Offseason goals for DTs: Atkins' goal this offseason has been to get his entire body in shape. Last year, due to recovery from ACL surgery, the bulk of his summer was spent focusing on rehabbing his knee. Although he was cleared to play by the start of last regular season, he wasn't in the general conditioning coaches and trainers would have liked him in, mainly because he spent so much time working out his knee instead of his entire body. Coaches believe he can get back to his old Pro Bowl form simply from having more time this offseason to devote to training his entire body.
The same goes for Thompson and Still. Both have fought through their share of injuries the last two years, limiting their ability to project on the team long term. For rookies Hardison, Williams and Pole, this will be a year of learning, regardless which part of the roster they make.