Even with three players who recently joined the team as undrafted college free agents making the squad, there were no big surprises when the Cincinnati Bengals announced today’s roster moves to get to the league-mandated limit of 53.
Undrafted rookie wide receiver Alex Erickson essentially made the team Tuesday when the Bengals cut veteran receiver and return specialist Brandon Tate. And the preseason play of defensive tackle DeShawn Williams, a UFA in 2015, coupled with injuries to three other players at his position made him a virtual lock to make the team as well as being one of the final cuts last year.
“We’re pleased with DeShawn’s progress,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said after watching . “I think he came in a little heavier than last year. He felt like he maybe needed some additional weight. I think as the preseason went on, we kind of talked to him and watched him morph his body again to show the quickness and suddenness he had last year.”
Trevor Roach, a UFA in 2015, was one of seven linebackers who made the cut. Keeping both Roach and 2014 sixth-round pick Marquis Flowers was one of the few surprises when the Bengals announced their roster. Their audition to stay on the roster beyond September will last another three weeks while Vontaze Burfict serves his suspension.
“Obviously guys that are not starting players in the NFL who play linebacker, safety, you have to be huge contributors on special teams,” Lewis said. “And we feel like we have a good nucleus of those young guys in order to do that, kind of uplift us. We’ll be without one of our best special teams players obviously for a bit in Ced Peerman. And we’re going to have to other guys step up and pick up the slack there with Ced being out.”
Among the moves the team made today was placing defensive tackle Marcus Hardison on season-ending Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury suffered last week in Jacksonville. Hardison beat out Williams for the final spot on the defensive line last year, but he suffered a knee injury in the first practice of the season and was inactive for all 16 games.
“It’s obviously a shame when a young guy has to go through that two years in a row,” Lewis said. “It’s disappointing for him and for us as a team.”
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On Tuesday the Bengals placed rookie fourth-round pick Andrew Billings on IR and moved Brandon Thompson to the Physically Unable to Perform list, meaning he will miss at least the first six games of the season.
“It just kind of forces us to possibly look for adding some kind of replacement at some point here,” Lewis said.
By keeping Peerman, a Pro Bowler, and first-round pick William Jackson on the 53-man roster, the Bengals make them eligible for the designation to return from Injured Reserve. The team is expected to put both players on IR on Sunday — Peerman with a broken arm; Jackson with a torn pectoral muscle — to free up two roster spots.
“We feel that William Jackson and Ced Peerman, from what we’ve been told, have an opportunity to possibly at some point be able to come back this football season, so we’re going to try to keep that avenue open, at least that option open for us,” Lewis said.
The Bengals do not need to designate which player they are bringing back until they clear him to return to practice. Both Peerman and Jackson, if placed on IR on Sunday, would be eligible to practice after Week 6 and eligible to play after Week 8.
Of the 19 players released today, only cornerback Chykie Brown is not eligible for the practice squad, although he could be one of the players who is re-signed to fill the expected vacancies created by placing Peerman and Jackson on IR.
Also on Sunday the team will assemble it’s 10-man practice squad with players who clear waivers at 4 p.m.
“We felt really good about our young guys this season,” Lewis said. “Obviously all the draft picks are here that aren’t injured. We really felt good about the young college free agent players. I feel like some of them showed very, very well and showed not only a great opportunity to develop physically, and I think that’s the important part. We really feel like mentally they’re up to it. We think they’re up to the challenge of the NFL and they can handle the mental aspect of it. Now let’s see if they can continue to develop physically.”
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