Bengals' 53-man roster projection includes seven wideouts

The Bengals might opt to begin the season with a larger wide receiving corps than usual. Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire

The Cincinnati Bengals must cut their roster to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday, Sept. 2. Here’s a final 53-man roster projection:

QUARTERBACKS (2): Andy Dalton, AJ McCarron

Jeff Driskel was making this roster until about midway through the Bengals' fourth preseason game. Driskel was in a cast with an injured thumb, and if he's out for a significant amount of time, that could land him on injured reserve. For now, he stays off the roster.

RUNNING BACKS (3): Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard, Joe Mixon

Tra Carson has had a standout camp so far, but an injury complicates things. With numbers needed elsewhere, the Bengals will hope Carson makes it to the practice squad if healthy and go with three running backs.

WIDE RECEIVER (7): A.J. Green, Brandon LaFell, John Ross, Josh Malone, Tyler Boyd, Cody Core, Alex Erickson

It looked like a longshot chance that the team could actually keep seven wide receivers, but the numbers have worked out. The team typically keeps six, and that would have made it difficult for Erickson and Core to both make the roster. Erickson changed that by having a standout camp, and he remains their best kick returner. Malone has looked better than Core during camp, but the Bengals have said repeatedly they like Core a lot.

TIGHT END (4): Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, C.J. Uzomah, Ryan Hewitt (H-back)

Uzomah's ankle injury calls his spot into question, but Mason Schreck's chance might have been hurt by an injury he suffered against the Redskins. If Schreck needs some time to heal, he's more likely an injured reserve candidate.

OFFENSIVE LINE (10): Clint Boling, Russell Bodine, Cedric Ogbuehi, Jake Fisher, Andre Smith, T.J. Johnson, Christian Westerman, Trey Hopkins, J.J. Dielman, Eric Winston

Hopkins took the starting right guard spot away from Smith, but Smith sticks around because of his value as a tackle. Dielman makes this roster solely on his draft position (2017 fifth-rounder) and potential. Winston was initially left off this roster, but he might stick around on opening day if Driskel's injury opens a roster spot.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9): Michael Johnson, Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, Andrew Billings, Jordan Willis, Ryan Glasgow, Pat Sims, Chris Smith, Wallace Gilberry

Johnson seemed to be firmly on the bubble here, but moving him inside as a defensive tackle on third down could give him new life. Chris Smith earned a spot here with a fantastic camp. The final spot came down to Gilberry or Clarke, but it wasn't a good sign to see Clarke playing late into the fourth preseason game. Gilberry stays for now.

LINEBACKER (6): Kevin Minter, Nick Vigil, Vincent Rey, Carl Lawson, Jordan Evans, Hardy Nickerson

Evans has impressed the team a lot during camp, and if Vontaze Burfict were on the active roster, he might get the last spot here. But because Burfict will be starting the season on the suspended list, Hardy Nickerson could get a chance to make the 53-man roster.

CORNERBACK (5): Dre Kirkpatrick, William Jackson III, Darqueze Dennard, Josh Shaw, KeiVarae Russell

Adam Jones will start the reason on reserve/suspended as he sits out the season opener. That leaves the door open for one more cornerback. Shaw makes the list essentially as a safety because they're thin there. Brandon Wilson has been hurt all of training camp, so it makes more sense to go with Russell here.

SAFETY (4): George Iloka, Shawn Williams, Clayton Fejedelem, Derron Smith

The only thing that could change here is if Williams can't make it back within the next few weeks. He would go on IR in that situation. However, the other safeties won't change.

SPECIALIST (3): Randy Bullock (K), Kevin Huber (P), Clark Harris (LS)

The Bengals value their draft picks, and that's going to make it tough to cut fifth-rounder Jake Elliott. But Bullock has earned this spot by having an excellent camp. The Bengals could attribute several losses directly to their kicker last season. Bullock has had the better camp and didn't miss a field goal in a game until Thursday. But considering it was a 47-yarder to potentially win the game, that could be pretty meaningful.

RESERVE/SUSPENDED (2): Adam Jones, Vontaze Burfict