The Cincinnati Bengals must cut their roster to 75 by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday and to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Here's a final 53-man roster projection:
No surprises here. McCarron has proven that he is a capable backup behind Dalton. Keeping a third quarterback on the roster would be unnecessary.
Brandon Tate was on my 53-man roster until Sunday night. But how do you keep Erickson off? The rookie just keeps making plays and seems to have a higher ceiling than Tate does at this point in his career. It's possible that they keep both Tate and Erickson, but I'm going to say Erickson jumps Tate here.
Core, the Bengals' sixth-round pick, didn't make this projection when OTAs began, but he has proven himself during training camp. Wright is a bit of a wild card because of his injury history and could be the odd man out if the team takes both Tate and Erickson.
The Bengals might have to keep an extra tight end for a while, with both Eifert and Kroft nursing injuries, but they could use Hewitt and Jake Fisher as blocking tight ends if needed.
Hill and Bernard are locked in at starters, and Burkhead has been a special-teams standout. Peerman was on this list until he fractured his forearm on Sunday, so my guess is he now heads to IR. Jeff Luc could be a practice squad candidate or potentially an extra addition to the roster as a fullback.
The Bengals could go with 10 offensive linemen, with starting guard Ogbuehi nursing a toe injury. That might open the door for Hopkins, who can play tackle and guard. Alex Redmond, whom I didn't pencil in on the roster, could also play several positions but has been hurt as of late. Keeping only nine is also possible, which might make Hopkins the odd man out. However, Johnson was being evaluated for a concussion during Sunday's game, and his availability could cause some tweaks to the last spots.
Rookie Andrew Billings will probably be placed on IR to begin the season, while Brandon Thompson will likely start the season on PUP. That frees up spots that the defensive linemen on the bubble likely wouldn't see.
Expect William Jackson III to go on IR, possibly to return. Dennard is currently injured, but that doesn't change the cornerback projection. I gave seventh rounder Fejedelem the nod over Jimmy Wilson for the last spot.
Vontaze Burfict will start the season on the reserve/suspended list and will not count against the 53-man roster when he sits out for three weeks. The Bengals will have to make a decision on the bottom of this roster position when he returns. They will have to carry an extra linebacker for at least three games while Burfict serves his suspension. Roach and Flowers might have gotten some help here with Peerman going down, which could free up a spot at another position.
Nugent didn't look great in the team's second preseason game, but who is going to press him at this point? Zach Hocker has been hurt, so there has been no real competition here. The team did not bring in a second punter or long snapper. This group will stay the same.