Bengals' 53-man roster projection features rookie backup QB, deep D-line

CINCINNATI -- The Cincinnati Bengals will cut their roster to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Here’s a projection:

QUARTERBACK (2): Andy Dalton, Ryan Finley

Finley’s strong performances throughout the preseason helped him secure the No. 2 spot on the depth chart. Finley sported the highest completion percentage of any Bengals quarterback this preseason and moved the offense effectively. The fourth-round pick will be called into action if anything happens to Dalton, who is entering his ninth season in Cincinnati.

RUNNING BACK (4): Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Rodney Anderson, Trayveon Williams

Anderson and Williams, the two rookies drafted in the latter rounds this season, have made plays when they’ve been on the field. Anderson looks ready to go after recovering from an ACL injury, while Williams should be available for the start of the regular season after dealing with a foot injury.

WIDE RECEIVER (7): A.J. Green, John Ross, Tyler Boyd, Damion Willis, Auden Tate, Alex Erickson, Ventell Bryant

Green will start the season on the shelf while he recovers from an ankle injury. Willis, the undrafted free agent, will be his replacement for the season opener, according to coach Zac Taylor. Willis went from a bubble player to securing a spot before the preseason finale. Tate, a seventh-round pick in 2018, had a productive preseason with eight catches for 68 yards and a touchdown.

TIGHT END (3): Tyler Eifert, C.J. Uzomah, Drew Sample

This spot could grow to four, depending on what happens at other positions on the roster. Eifert and Uzomah will give the offense veteran targets at tight end. Once again, Eifert’s health will be something to watch after playing in just 14 games over the past three seasons. Sample, the Bengals’ second-round pick out of Washington, should get opportunities as well.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8): Cordy Glenn, Michael Jordan, Trey Hopkins, John Miller, Bobby Hart, Andre Smith, John Jerry, Billy Price

The offensive line produced the most competitive battles during the preseason, with left guard Jordan and center Hopkins earning starting spots. Price, last year’s starting center and a 2018 first-round pick, will be asked to give the Bengals depth along the interior. The veteran Smith serves as the primary backup tackle.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10): Geno Atkins, Andrew Billings, Ryan Glasgow, Carlos Dunlap, Carl Lawson, Andrew Brown, Jordan Willis, Renell Wren, Kerry Wynn, Sam Hubbard

This might be the deepest positional unit on the team. Willis, Wynn and Brown all brought pressure off the edge this preseason, which strengthened their arguments to make the roster. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Atkins will anchor the defense for another year and is arguably the best player on the roster.

LINEBACKER (6): Preston Brown, Nick Vigil, Germaine Pratt, Jordan Evans, Hardy Nickerson, Deshaun Davis

Cincinnati enters the year with a lot of questions around this unit. The Bengals will need better play from the linebackers to turn around what was one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2018. Pratt (North Carolina State) has the potential to play himself into a starting spot by the end of his rookie season.

SECONDARY (10): Dre Kirkpatrick, William Jackson, Darius Phillips, Davontae Harris, B.W. Webb, Jordan Brown, Jessie Bates, Shawn Williams, Clayton Fejedelem, Brandon Wilson

The defensive backs feature Bates, the second-year safety who is one of the most promising players on the roster. Phillips brings value to the special teams unit in addition to depth at cornerback.

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

The Bengals brought another kicker to training camp (Tristan Vizcaino), but Bullock was accurate enough to lock down his roster spot.