Projecting the Bengals’ 53-man roster

An early look at who could be on the team for the season opener

The Cincinnati Bengals open training camp at the end of the month and will use that time, along with three preseason games, to pare down the roster.

Cincinnati’s roster currently sits at 88 players but can grow to 90 for training camp. Teams must cut down to 85 players by Aug. 16, to 80 players by Aug. 23 and make final cuts by Aug. 30.

Here is an early look at what the 53-man roster could look like to start of the 2022 season.

QUARTERBACKS (2)

In: Joe Burrow, Brandon Allen

Out: Jake Browning

Notable: Joe Burrow is back for a third year and trying to build off a Comeback Player of the Year season with an overhauled offensive line in front of him. He battled through several injuries last year while coming back from 2020 ACL reconstruction and still led the team to the Super Bowl. The Bengals brought back Brandon Allen on a third one-year deal and he remains the clear choice to back up Burrow.

RUNNING BACK (4)

In: Chris Evans, Joe Mixon, Samaje Perine, Trayveon Williams

Out: Shemari Jones, Elijah Holyfield

Notable: Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine were the top guys in 2021, but Chris Evans got some good opportunities in his rookie season and could be utilized more in the passing game this year. Trayveon Williams still hasn’t broken into the offense but fills a role on special teams.

WIDE RECEIVERS (7)

In: Tyler Boyd, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Stanley Morgan, Kwamie Lassiter, Trent Taylor, Mike Thomas

Out: Jaivon Heiligh, Trenton Iwin, Kendric Pryor, Jack Sorenson, Pooka Williams

Notable: Tyler Boyd, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins make up one of the best wide receiver trios in the league, but a big focus will be on establishing a reliable fourth receiver. Kwamie Lassiter, despite being an undrafted college free agent signee, stood out in OTAs while Higgins was out because of shoulder surgery and could be a surprise addition to the group. Pooka Williams is another guy that could slide in otherwise.

TIGHT END (3)

In: Hayden Hurst, Drew Sample, Mitchell Wilcox

Out: Nick Eubanks, Thaddeus Moss, Justin Rigg, Scotty Washington

Notable: Hayden Hurst replaces C.J. Uzomah after he left in free agency to join the N.Y. Jets, and Drew Sample returns for a third season after playing all 21 games last year. Mitchell Wilcox was a big contributor on special teams but could be bumped by Thaddeus Moss or Scotty Washington if they show well in camp.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

In: Hakeem Adeniji, Alex Cappa, Jackson Carman, La’el Collins, Trey Hill, Ted Karras, Isaiah Prince, Jonah Williams, Cordell Volson

Out: Ben Brown, Devin Cochran, Lamont Gaillard, Desmond Noel, D’Ante Smith

Notable: The Bengals still could add another veteran to the group, but the offensive line appears pretty set going into camp as far as the starters. Jackson Carman spent most of the offseason workout program as the first-team left guard. Trey Hill will back up center Ted Karras, and D’Ante Smith could be the odd man out with fourth-round draft pick Cordell Volson now in the mix.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

In: Zach Carter, Trey Hendrickson, B.J. Hill, Sam Hubbard, Khalid Kareem, Joseph Ossai, D.J. Reader, Josh Tupou, Cam Sample

Out: Jeff Gunter, Wyatt Hubert, Tyler Shelvin, Noah Spence, Tariqious Tisdale

Notable: Joseph Ossai showed promise in training camp last year before suffering a season-ending knee injury in the preseason opener, after turning some heads with a sack on Tom Brady. He will be one to watch as he attempts to bounce back and show he can play at that same level. Zach Carter is an unknown after some considered him a reach in the fifth round, but he finished college with 17.5 sacks playing in the SEC and has a chance to bump out Tyler Shelvin, who saw action in just five games last year.

LINEBACKER (5)

In: Joe Bachie, Markus Bailey, Akeem Davis-Gaither, Germaine Pratt, Logan Wilson

Out: Clarence Hicks, Clay Johnston, Keandre Jones, Carson Wells

Notable: Joe Bachie is a bit of a question mark after tearing his ACL late in the season and potentially needing some extra time to get ready for the 2022 season. Keandre Jones or Clay Johnston would be next in line as players who also bring value on special teams.

DEFENSIVE BACKS (11)

In: Tycen Anderson, Eli Apple, Chidobe Awuzie, Jessie Bates, Vonn Bell, Jalen Davis, Dax Hill, Mike Hilton, Tre Flowers, Brandon Wilson, Cam Taylor-Britt

Out: John Brannon, Abu Daramy-Swaray, Allen George, Trayvon Henderson, Delonte Hood, Bookie Radley-Hiles, Michael Thomas

Notable: The three rookie defensive backs seemed to settle in well during the offseason workout program, especially Dax Hill, who was with the first team while Jessie Bates did not participate. Tre Flowers earned his spot with a strong finish to the 2021 season. Michael Thomas is probably the next man up in this group.

SPECIAL TEAMS (3)

In: Evan McPherson (kicker), Kevin Huber (punter), Clark Harris (long-snapper)

Out: Cal Adomitis (long snapper), Drue Chrisman (punter)

Notable: For now the veterans in the punting and long snapping competitions have the edge. Cal Adomitis and Drue Chrisman still have a few areas for improvement. The biggest decision will come between Kevin Huber and Chrisman, but Huber’s chemistry with Clark Harris and McPherson as the holder might be what helps him keep his job.

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