The Bengals begin training camp with one of their most talented rosters in recent history. With so many gifted young players vying for playing time, some familiar faces may not make the cut. Here is a brief look at some well known players who may be on the bubble throughout training camp.
Ever since the team drafted Joe Mixon, it has been popular to question Jeremy Hill’s future with the team. Given his propensity for scoring touchdowns and the fact that he remains on his rookie contract, it is highly unlikely that Hill will not make the final roster in 2017. Hill’s playing time could be impacted by Mixon, but he will almost certainly earn a roster spot this season. Giovani Bernard signed a new contract last off season, which features a big jump in pay in 2018. Although he is almost assured a roster spot in 2017, how the running back situation pans out this fall could determine his future with the team.
Drafting both John Ross and Josh Malone could mean trouble for Alex Erickson and/or Cody Core. With AJ Green, Brandon LaFell, and Tyler Boyd being sure things, the numbers start to work against Erickson and Core. Erickson has the advantage of being able to return kicks and punts. This will be important as the Bengals lost Rex Burkhead in free agency, Adam Jones has been suspended for the first game, and the team may not want to risk using first round pick John Ross in that capacity.
CJ Uzomah showed off his talent as a receiving tight end in the absence of Tyler Eifert at the beginning of last season. The addition of two rookie receivers in the draft makes you wonder what the Bengals offense will look like next season. If they decide to spread it out more in order to use all of these receivers, h-back Ryan Hewitt and/or tight end Tyler Kroft may no longer fit the mold of what the team is looking for. Hewitt’s versatility would seem to give him an edge if there is only room on the roster for one of the two.
With so much talent on the offense, a third-string quarterback may not a luxury the Bengals can afford.
The Bengals feel strongly about second year linebacker Nick Vigil. In addition to Vigil, the free agent acquisition of Kevin Minter along with the drafting of Carl Lawson and Jordan Evans has created a glut of young cheap talent at the linebacker position. While the Bengals already released Rey Maualuga, good camp performances by these young players could make Vincent Rey expendable. Rey does have two things going for him. One is that Marvin Lewis is generally not too keen on starting young defensive players. The second is that with Minter and Vontaze Burfict in contract years, releasing Rey could leave the group without a veteran leader in 2018. Rey’s future with the team will depend on how much confidence Lewis has in these young linebackers.
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