Cincinnati Bengals: 5 things to know about battle to make the team

The Cincinnati Bengals made some surprise moves on Saturday in trying to get their roster down to the 53-man limit set by the league.

The release of 10th-year defensive end Michael Johnson was one of them, as the Bengals decided to go with only eight up front instead of the usual nine or 10 for a 4-3 defense.

»RELATED: Bengals youth movement continues

However, other decisions seemed tied to specific battles between two players. Here is a look at some of the decisions that were made and why:

1. Schreck over Hewitt

The Bengals released veteran Ryan Hewitt, terminating his contract that ran through 2019, and it seems as though that decision is a case of Bill Lazor’s new offense being more tailored more toward tight ends than H-backs. Cincinnati kept second-year tight end Mason Schreck, a more athletic player, and Cethan Carter (shoulder) was put on season-ending injured reserve.

»RELATED: 5 takeaways from preseason finale vs. Colts

“This is how the numbers played out,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said. “I think as Mason has developed, we have kind of a comfort level of how things have been going with him. He just has to hold onto the football.”

Schreck quietly led the team in receiving this preseason with nine receptions for 118 yards, but also fumbled twice.

2. Tupou over Brown

Cincinnati opted for a No. 2 nose tackle in Josh Tupou rather than keeping another three-technique player in fifth-round pick Andrew Brown. Ryan Glasgow can play both positions inside, so it seemed there could have been room for Brown instead of Tupou, but the rookie loses out to the second-year nose tackle that got some playing time late last year.

“Josh is coming back off his injury and that gives us a backup with some girth,” Lewis said. “At this point, we felt that’s a good fit for us.”

Tupou, at 345 pounds, is about 50 pounds heavier than Brown.

3. Tate in for now

Cincinnati went with a seventh receiver and kept seventh-round pick Auden Tate, a 6-foot-5, 228-pound target from Florida State, but Lewis indicated that decision had something to do with Cody Core’s status being unknown for now.

Core has been battling an undisclosed injury and appears to be making progress, but Lewis said it’s still unclear if the Bengals can carry him for a couple weeks or if they need to move him to Injured/Reserve-return.

“I don’t think you can worry about whether you’re going to lose a guy or not, but we do have Cody here with his status up in the air a little bit,” Lewis said. “He seems to be on the mend, so at this point that’s where we’re headed.”

4. Carson over Hill

Brian Hill had a solid preseason, leading the team with 87 yards on 17 carries, but Tra Carson also was impressive and apparently a little moreso.

Lewis said it was a “close call” between the two. Fourth-round pick Mark Walton wasn’t as productive but earned the right for more consideration based on potential indicated by his draft position.

“Tra has been very productive,” Lewis said. “He’s worked hard. He’s done a good job showing up on special teams. With Brian, it was a close call between those guys, but we right now have obviously given the nod to Tra. But Brian has done a nice job for us as well.”

5. Secondary concerns

The secondary is looking a little thin, so it was surprising the Bengals waived cornerback KeiVarae Russell and versatile defensive back Josh Shaw and kept Tony McRae, who has been dealing with an ankle injury. Lewis had given some praise to McRae earlier in the week.

“KeiVarae has had some good plays, but he’s had some plays we need to do better,” Lewis said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

High School Football: Week 5 boxscores, scores
High School Football: Week 5 boxscores, scores

Allen East 50, Delphos Jefferson 6 Alter 45, Fenwick 20 Anderson 47, Withrow 12 Badin 42, Roger Bacon 35, OT Bellbrook 21, Franklin 17 Bellefontaine 14, Ben Logan 6 Brookville 42, Carlisle 2 Butler 13, Xenia 7, OT Celina 42, Ottawa-Glandorf 24 Chaminade Julienne 61, Carroll 30 Cin. Country Day 28, New Miami 20 Clinton-Massie 34, Bishop Hartley 31 Col...
Henry scores school-record 6 touchdowns to lead CJ past Carroll
Henry scores school-record 6 touchdowns to lead CJ past Carroll

Chaminade Julienne celebrated its homecoming victory Friday night at Roger Glass Stadium as a community. The students surrounded the team on the field right after the game as they always do. They helped sing the alma mater. They listened to head coach Marcus Colvin’s speech. They joined a chant and jumped up and down with the players. In the...
McCoy: Who are top starting pitchers Reds could pursue in free agency?
McCoy: Who are top starting pitchers Reds could pursue in free agency?

Q: I saw a list of the all-time Top 25 players with sweet swings, headed by Ken Griffey Jr., and does it surprise you that Joey Votto is not on the list? — DAVE, Miamisburg/Centerville/Beavercreek. A: Have you seen some of those defensive thrusts Votto takes to foul off pitches? Efficient, but not sweet. Votto’s swings are not picturesque...
Butler senior wins Junior Tournament Bowlers Association event
Butler senior wins Junior Tournament Bowlers Association event

Second place was a familiar finish for the Sacks brothers until Sunday. “Between me and my brother Eric, I think we had close to 10 second-place JTBA finishes,” Drew Sacks said. “I guess I finally broke the curse.” Drew won the Junior Tournament Bowlers Association Ohio Valley Bank Open in Gallipolis Sunday. The Butler High...
Kettering’s Day wins City Stroke Play Championship
Kettering’s Day wins City Stroke Play Championship

Fifty-one golfers teed it up twice in the City Stroke Play Championship last weekend at Kittyhawk Golf Center, but only one – Paul Day – managed to break par for 18 holes. Day, a 34-year-old Kettering software support specialist, fired a 3-under-par 69 Saturday on the Hawk course and turned in a 3-over-par 75 on the Eagle course Sunday...
More Stories