2018 Cincinnati Bengals starters, 53-man roster, schedule prediction

Andy Dalton will be backed up by Jeff Driskel with the season-ending injury for Matt Barkley sealing the deal. Reinhold Matay/USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals cut their roster to 53 on Saturday. Here’s a look at their roster with starters in bold:

QUARTERBACKS (2): Andy Dalton, Jeff Driskel

There’s no way to know if Jeff Driskel would have won the role as Dalton’s backup on his own, but a season-ending injury for Matt Barkley sealed the deal. The Bengals will go with two quarterbacks on the active roster, with Logan Woodside a practice squad candidate.

RUNNING BACKS (4): Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard, Tra Carson, Mark Walton

There aren’t any surprises here. Carson just beat out Brian Hill for the fourth spot, and it was unlikely the Bengals were going to part ways with fourth-round pick Mark Walton.

WIDE RECEIVER (6): A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, John Ross, Josh Malone, Alex Erickson, Auden Tate and Cody Core

The Bengals kept Tate and Core, going with seven wideouts on their initial 53-man roster. That’s likely to change. Core is dealing with an injury, and although Marvin Lewis said he’s on the mend, he could be a candidate to go on IR. Tate might end up on the practice squad after everything shakes out.

TIGHT END (4): Tyler Eifert, Tyler Kroft, C.J. Uzomah and Mason Schreck.

The Bengals released H-B Ryan Hewitt and will place Cethan Carter on IR. Carter might have snuck onto the final 53-man roster, but he tore his labrum during Thursday’s preseason game and will have season-ending surgery. That injury might have paved the way for Schreck to make the roster after last year’s seventh-round pick had a nice camp.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Cordy Glenn, Clint Boling, Billy Price, Christian Westerman, Alex Redmond, Trey Hopkins, Jake Fisher, Cedric Ogbuehi, Bobby Hart

The Bengals didn’t have any surprises here. With Hopkins doubling as a center/guard, T.J. Johnson’s role was expendable. It’s still possible Johnson could end up on the final roster. Glenn, Boling and Price are sure starters, but the right side of the line is a still somewhat of a puzzle. Redmond or Hopkins will start at right guard, and Hart or Fisher will start at right tackle.

DEFENSIVE LINE (8): Carlos Dunlap, Geno Atkins, Andrew Billings, Jordan Willis, Carl Lawson, Ryan Glasgow, Sam Hubbard, Josh Tupou

It was a surprise to see longtime defensive end Michael Johnson on the list of roster cuts, but it might not be the end of the line for him. Lewis said Johnson is a potential candidate to return once the roster is finalized. If Johnson comes back, he’d take the starting role in base defense over Willis, while Lawson will maintain his role as a nickel edge rusher. The Bengals went with Tupou over draft pick Brown to back up Billings here.

LINEBACKER (6): Preston Brown, Nick Vigil, Jordan Evans, Vincent Rey, Malik Jefferson, Hardy Nickerson

This is subject to change when Vontaze Burfict comes back after his four-game suspension. Although Rey is typically Burfict’s backup and can play every linebacker role, he’s been dealing with an ankle injury during the preseason. Evans took Burfict’s spot at weakside linebacker instead.

CORNERBACK (6): Dre Kirkpatrick, William Jackson, Darqueze Dennard, Darius Phillips, Tony McRae and Davontae Harris

McRae made the roster over KeiVarae Russell despite missing time with an injury. Russell had an inconsistent camp despite making some nice plays during the preseason games. The Bengals will look at the waiver wire here, but it doesn’t mean Russell couldn’t come back. Draft picks Darius Phillips and Harris both make the roster.

SAFETY (4): Jessie Bates, Shawn Williams, Clayton Fejedelem, Brandon Wilson

Josh Shaw was waived/injured and will revert to IR if he clears waivers, leaving the Bengals with four safeties for now. The big surprise came earlier when they released George Iloka, paving the way for second-round pick Jessie Bates to become a starter.

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

There was never a competition here. The Bengals stuck with reliable veterans Huber and Harris, and went with Bullock over the inexperienced Jonathan Brown.