Below is the finalized opening day roster for the 2012-13 Cincinnati Bengals. Of course, what better way to congratulate these 53 men, who have braved countless cuts and muggy, August practices, then forcing them to run out of the tunnel of M&T Bank Stadium to a resounding wave of boos moments before their Monday night opener against the Baltimore Ravens?
I’m sure if you ask any of these players, they would say no amount of heckling could trump the feeling of strapping on that striped helmet one more time. Here are said players:
Andy Dalton, Bruce Gradkowski
Running Backs (4)
BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Bernard Scott, Brian Leonard, Cedric Peerman
Wide Receivers (7)
Wide Receiver 1: A.J. Green, Andrew Hawkins, Mohamed Sanu (R)
Wide Receiver 2: Brandon Tate, Armon Binns, Ryan Whalen, Marvin Jones (R)
Tight Ends (3)
Jermaine Gresham, Donald Lee, Orson Charles (R)
Offensive Linemen (8)
Left Tackle: Andrew Whitworth, Anthony Collins
Left Guard: Clint Boling
Center: Trevor Robinson (R), Jeff Faine
[C Kyle Cook will be placed on IR as a player set to return on Sept. 4th]
Right Guard: Kevin Zeitler (R)
Right Tackle: Andre Smith, Dennis Roland
Defensive Linemen (8)
Left Defensive End: Robert Geathers, Carlos Dunlap
Right Defensive End: Michael Johnson, Jamaal Anderson
Nose Tackle: Domata Peko, Brandon Thompson (R)
Defensive Tackle: Geno Atkins, Devon Still (R)
Weakside Linebacker: Thomas Howard, Vincent Rey
Middle Linebacker: Rey Maualuga, Vontaze Burfict (R)
Strongside Linebacker: Manny Lawson, Dan Skuta
Left Cornerback: Nate Clements, Terence Newman, Dre Kirkpatrick (R)
Strong Safety: Taylor Mays, Jeromy Miles
Free Safety: Reggie Nelson, George Iloka (R)
Right Cornerback: Leon Hall, Jason Allen, Adam Jones
**Special Teams (7)**
Kicker: Mike Nugent
Punter: Kevin Huber
Kickoff/Punt Returner: Brandon Tate, Andrew Hawkins, Adam Jones, Marvin Jones
Long Snapper: Clark Harris
- WRs Jones and Sanu are too far down the depth chart. Let’s keep it simple: Jones, a rookie, was the breakout Bengal of the preseason, amassing more receiving yards (150) than Tate, Hawkins, Binns, and Whalen combined (141). On the other end, Sanu, also a rookie, led the NFL with 12 catches this preseason, only three less than Tate through Whalen combined.
- How about the rookie Robinson topping the veteran Faine at center? Now, this could be a temporary measure considering Faine is just getting his playbook and meeting the coaching staff, but by all indications, the Bengals expect Faine to be ready for the September 10th Monday night opener against the Ravens. Maybe the rook will come out on top in this David vs. Goliath matchup.
- The lack of depth at offensive guard. The Cincinnati coaches are very high on Boling and Zeitler, as is evident from the fact that they signed Faine to replace Cook following his injury, but how prepared are the other linemen to move inside should either of them go down?
- Good for Michael Johnson. One year before he left Georgia Tech, the tall, speedy end was a consensus Top 10 selection only to fall to the 3rd round in the 2009 Draft. The Bengals took a chance on Johnson and got a starter out of it who racked up 6 sacks last year.
- Vontaze Burfict. The much-maligned rookie suffered a substantial draft stock drop (clear first round choice to undrafted prospect) and still managed to beat out former MLB Roddrick Muckleroy despite the fact that Muckelroy ranked second in tackles this preseason.
- Taylor Mays beating out Jeromy Miles at strong safety. Miles led the team in tackles this August and tacked on a pick, but the coaches couldn’t be swayed from Mays’ alluring upside and aggressive style of play.
There they are; your 2012-13 Cincinnati Bengals! If you have the same reservations I do, or you completely disagree, leave a comment and we’ll chat orange and black until the Monday night opener.