The Cincinnati Bengals wrapped up their offseason program on Thursday and are expected to open training camp in late July at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Here's a 53-man roster projection:
It's a common Bengals practice to take only two quarterbacks into a season, and Dalton and McCarron certainly have proven capable of leading Cincinnati's offense.
A few of the "cut" running backs, such as fullback Luc or undrafted rookie Mobley, could make the Bengals' practice squad, but the four veterans will all return.
One of the toughest training-camp decisions confronting coaches will be choosing between Kumerow's consistency as a no-drop pass-catcher or keeping the less consistent Mario Alford on the roster for his special-teams versatility. In this scenario, Alford's special teams skills will have to come from somewhere else.
No surprises here. This same foursome should make the roster again.
Offensive linemen (9): Andrew Whitworth, Eric Winston, Cedric Ogbuehi, Jake Fisher, Clint Boling, Kevin Zeitler, Russell Bodine, T.J. Johnson, Christian Westerman. (Cut: Alex Cooper, Alex Redmond, Trey Hopkins, Trip Thurman, John Weidenaar, Aaron Epps)
There will be some interesting decisions here, specifically involving Hopkins, a guard who was once viewed as a promising, up-and-coming lineman. Since being signed as an undrafted player in 2014, Hopkins just hasn't dominated at his position. Injuries have contributed to that. Johnson and Westerman might be intriguing additions, but Johnson has been the Bengals' longtime backup center, and aside from Bodine, he has been the only center this spring to snap the ball with adequate consistency. Other young backups struggled in organized team activities and minicamp.
Defensive linemen (10): Carlos Dunlap, Michael Johnson, Geno Atkins, Domata Peko, Andrew Billings, Margus Hunt, Will Clarke, Pat Sims, Marcus Hardison, DeShawn Williams, Possible PUP list -- Brandon Thompson. (Cut: David Dean, Dezmond Johnson, Ryan Brown)
The timetable for Thompson's return from an ACL injury could have an impact on what the Bengals' initial 53-man roster looks like. Although he hopes to be back in time for the season, if the Bengals remain slow and steady with his recovery, he might not be ready by Sept. 11. If that's the case, Williams will have earned a spot after impressing coaches with his tireless work this offseason.
Flowers and Dawson can thank Burfict's three-game suspension for their inclusion on this projection. Because Burfict will eventually return, both will be on the fringe of the roster at some point this year, meaning they could have quite an intriguing position battle looming later this summer. They will try to prove they not only can contribute defensively, but also on special teams. Dawson had flashes of production as a rookie last season, and before he missed all of last season, Flowers' coverage skills were lauded.
Defensive backs (9): Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, George Iloka, Shawn Williams, Darqueze Dennard, Derron Smith, William Jackson III, Chris Lewis-Harris, Josh Shaw. (Cut: Taylor Mays, Chykie Brown, Clayton Fejedelem, Darius Hillary, Corey Tindal, Floyd Raven)
A couple of tough choices here regarding Taylor Mays, who returned this offseason after a year away from Cincinnati, and seventh-round pick Fejedelem. As a good cover safety, Mays deserves a spot on the roster, but depth might make it tough for him to stick. The same goes for Fejedelem, who should be a good practice-squad fit.
This group has been together since 2010. It's not breaking up this year.