Bengals Coverage

Bengals Beat: Bengals 2023 Camp 53-man Projection 6.0: All Eyes On Back-Up QB, Jackson Carman, Punter, Depth In Preseason Finale

CINCINNATI – Next Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET is one of the craziest times of the NFL calendar. And if you’re a player fighting for your dream of an NFL roster spot, then there is no more nervous time of the year.

All rosters must be sliced to 53 players, with all sorts of designations likely to help teams create space, hold onto players and manage the roster the best way possible for the start of the 2023 season.

With the Bengals, they are a Super Bowl-caliber team that has Super Bowl-caliber problems. They know what their 22 players on offense and defense will look like. But it’s the depth and youth of the roster in key reserve positions they will have to manage carefully.

“It’s ongoing. We got a whole ‘nother week and a whole ‘nother game that those guys are going to get a chance to compete,” head coach Zac Taylor said. “They were kind of under the impression the whole time that this is going to go all the way to the end of it. So we’ll let it play out. They’ve both had good moments. They both have moments that we’d like to be better just in general, from practice to games, all the way around. But relatively pleased with how the development has gone, but there’s always room for improvement for those guys, particularly at that position. The microscope is on them a little bit brighter. But yeah, it’ll go through this week.”

The thought of adding another quarterback is being considered however the logistics of that is another matter. If former backup Brandon Allen were to be cut in San Francisco, that’s a possibility.

“I think we do our due diligence at every position at the end of camp,” Taylor said. “If there’s players that we think help our team get better, then those things are always open and on the table every year at training camp, regardless of position. It’s part of our job. Our job is to field the best team we can put together. That’s always a possibility for all positions at the end of training camp.”

Taylor made it pretty clear, it’s down to the wire for both Browning and Siemian, with both getting one more chance to show their value.

“I think it’s up in the air. I think they’re competing,” Taylor said. “They’ve both had really positive moments and they have moments that I think they probably would like back. We’re just going to keep on going the way we have it planned and let them compete through the rest of the week.”

  • Other things to watch and consider:
  • Jackson Carman could use a strong showing. He’s never been known for his practice or preseason displays of dominance but against the backups in Washington, this could serve as a good chance. The third-year lineman has been placed at both tackle spots and left guard in camp. He’s started at left tackle against Atlanta and right tackle vs. Green Bay.

  • The final spots:
  • Michael Thomas, Stanley Morgan and Trent Taylor are three highly regarded veterans on this roster. One or two of them could be casualties come Tuesday afternoon.

  • Practice squad considerations:
  • The 16-man unit will be formed on Thursday after the waiver wire period passes. Every team cuts players they plan to re-sign to their practice squad. The likes of Owen Carney, Jeff Gunter, Drue Chrisman, Tanner Hudson and Jaxson Kirkland are names to keep an eye on.

    • Key Additions:

    Free agents: Orlando Brown Jr., Nick Scott, Cody Ford, Sidney Jones IV, Tarell Basham, Irv Smith Jr.
    Draft: Myles Murphy, DJ Turner II, Jordan Battle, Charlie Jones, Chase Brown, Brad Robbins, Andrei Iosivas, DJ Ivey

    • Key Losses:

    Free agents: Jessie Bates III (Atlanta), Vonn Bell (Carolina), Eli Apple (Miami), Hayden Hurst (Carolina), Samaje Perine (Denver), Tre Flowers (Atlanta)
    Retired: Kevin Huber

    Without further ado, we present 2023 Bengals 53-man roster projection 6.0.

    (Editor’s note: Final projection comes out next week in advance of cutdown day)
    OFFENSE (24):

    • Quarterback (2):

    Joe Burrow, Jake Browning:
    In the running: Trevor Siemian, Reid Sinnett

    Trags take: The news here is that Browning has jumped ahead of Siemian on the strength of his legs. He ran four times for 40 yards, including twice for 34 yards on the go-ahead drive in the fourth quarter. He completed 16 of 22 passes for 140 yards and directed the only touchdown drive the offense has enjoyed in two preseason games. He still has two interceptions in two games while Siemian has only one. Browning has more experience in the Bengals system. Keep an eye on what happens with Brandon Allen in San Francisco. Could the Bengals bring him back?

    • Running back (4):

    Joe Mixon, Trayveon Williams, Chase Brown, Chris Evans
    In the running: Calvin Tyler Jr., Jacob Saylors

    Trags take: We’re going to go with four here for now with so many questions. Better to have more versatility than less here. All four bring something different. Williams has returned to the practice field, if only to rehab his right ankle. There’s no rush to get him back with Chase Brown and Chris Evans, as well as Tyler and Saylors getting reps. Evans leads the Bengals in two preseason games with 64 yards on 14 carries for a healthy 4.6 yards per carry. Is it enough to keep him on the roster? With Mixon’s court case now resolved and his acquittal in the books, the team is hoping he can move forward with a productive season as their lead back for a seventh season.

    • Tight end (3):

    Irv Smith Jr., Drew Sample, Mitchell Wilcox
    In the running: Nick Bowers, Christian Trahan, Devin Asiasi, Tanner Hudson

    Trags take: Wilcox has returned to practice. Tanner Hudson, Devin Asiasi and Nick Bowers all figure to get good looks this Saturday in Washington. Tanner Hudson is a dark horse here.

    • Wide Receiver (6):

    Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, Trenton Irwin, Charlie Jones, Andrei Iosivas
    In the running:Trent Taylor, Stanley Morgan, Kwamie Lassiter II, Shedrick Jackson, Malachi Carter, Mac Hippenhammer

    Trags take: The top six spots are essentially sealed if one assumes they are protecting the drafted Charlie Jones and Andrei Iosivas. The decision comes down to what to do with Stanley Morgan and Trent Taylor. Both could be cut to get to the initial 53, and later added.

    • Offensive line (9):

    Orlando Brown Jr., Jonah Williams, Jackson Carman, Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, Cody Ford, Max Scharping, Cordell Volson, Trey Hill
    In the running: Hakeem Adeniji, D’Ante Smith, Ben Brown, Nate Gilliam, Jaxson Kirkland
    PUP:La’el Collins
    IR: Devin Cochran (IR)

    Trags take: Again, it does not appear the Bengals want to expose Jackson Carman and lose a tackle they believe has the ability to be dominant when he applies himself. Still, the Carman spot bears watching this weekend. How much does Carman play Saturday night? That could provide some insight. If he’s playing into the second half, that might not bode well. The Bengals just don’t seem intent on cutting Jackson Carman if they keep him as a backup left tackle, his natural position. This gives the Bengals the best combination of starters, depth and versatility. Collins on PUP to start gives the Bengals a valuable extra spot here. There’s good versatility on this unit from tackle to guard to center.

    DEFENSE(26):

    • Edge (5):

    Trey Hendrickson, Sam Hubbard, Joseph Ossai, Myles Murphy, Cam Sample
    In the running: Jeff Gunter, Owen Carney, Raymond Johnson III, Tarell Basham (waived)

    Trags take: Injury to Tarell Basham came at a bad time for him. He was subsequently waived on Friday before the team left for Washington. Owen Carney is an underdog with a real shot at a roster spot. Likely practice squader if not claimed. At least two practice squad spots here. Murphy will get lots of looks outside and inside in practice. Will the Bengals show him inside in games and put it on film? Stay tuned.

    • IDL (5):

    DJ Reader, B.J. Hill, Josh Tupou, Jay Tufele, Zach Carter
    In the running: Domenique Davis, Tautala Pesefea Jr.
    IR:Devonnsha Maxwell

    Trags take: This group seems rock solid heading into the season. All five have had good camps and preseason.

    • Linebackers (5):

    Logan Wilson, Germaine Pratt, Akeem Davis-Gaither, Joe Bachie, Markus Bailey
    In the running: Keandre Jones, Shaka Heyward, Jaylen Moody, Tyler Murray

    Trags take: This is as competitive a group on the back end as you will find on the roster. Wilson, Pratt and ADG are locks. Bachie, who suffered a chest injury in the preseason opener, is a glue guy. Bailey and Keandre Jones figure to battle for that final spot and a place on Simmons’ special teams unit.

    • Cornerbacks (6):

    Chidobe Awuzie, Mike Hilton, Cam Taylor-Britt, DJ Turner II, DJ Ivey, Jalen Davis
    In the running: Allan George, Marvell Tell III, Sidney Jones IV

    Trags take: This group appears to be pretty much set heading into preseason finale at Washington. Davis over Jones here because of Davis’ value as a back-up nickel corner (filled in for Mike Hilton twice last year) and his value on special teams. It’s critical that the Bengals have athletic ability and speed here. They have it across the board, from top to bottom.

    • Safeties (5):

    Nick Scott, Dax Hill, Jordan Battle, Tycen Anderson, Michael Thomas
    In the running: Yusef Corker, Larry Brooks

    Trags take: The story here is what to do with Michael Thomas, who has been getting some corner time in camp. He is as well-liked as anyone in the room and he’s a special teams captain from 2022.

    SPECIAL TEAMS (3):

    • Kicker (1):

    Evan McPherson
    In the running: None

    Trags take: McPherson is 6-for-6 on field goals, including a 51-yarder against Green Bay and a 50-yarder vs. Atlanta. A very good preseason so far. All systems go.

    • Punter/Holder(1):

    Brad Robbins
    In the running: Drue Chrisman

    Trags take: This has been a competitive battle in camp. Robbins is still the odds-on favorite and Chrisman is likely headed for practice squad.

    • Long snapper (1):

    Cal Adomitis
    In the running: None

    Trags take: Adomitis was clean in his snaps against Green Bay and Atlanta. Barring injury, the job is his.

    Mike Petraglia

    Joined CLNS Media in 2017. Covered Boston sports as a radio broadcaster, reporter, columnist and TV and video talent since 1993. Covered Boston Red Sox for MLB.com from 2000-2007 and the New England Patriots for ESPN Radio, WBZ-AM, SiriusXM, WEEI, WEEI.com and CLNS since 1993. Featured columnist for the Boston Celtics on CelticsBlog.

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