The Cincinnati Bengals' training camp will be the most-watched NFL event in 2013 due to their exposure on HBO's Hard Knocks. There is some good news for HBO and its viewers—the Bengals are loaded with talent heading into the new season.
The defense has remained relatively similar to its 2012 form. However, one major difference is the addition of former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison. His presence at training camp will be a valuable asset to both the Bengals and the audience of Hard Knocks.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bengals have a completely different story. The same core group of players from 2012 will be present; however, there are many new additions.
Rookies Tyler Eifert and Giovani Bernard will look to jell with the rest of the unit and become explosive additions to the lackluster offense from a season ago. Also, returning will be a healthy Mohamed Sanu and a more experienced Marvin Jones at wide receiver.
With all of these new weapons, quarterback Andy Dalton will certainly be under the microscope as he commands this offense throughout training camp.
This will be a very interesting—and telling—year for this Bengals franchise.
Note: Next to each name will be the player's given roster number.
Andy Dalton (No. 14)
Dalton will possibly be the most scrutinized Bengal during training camp this season. He enters as the incumbent starter with zero possibility of losing his job. He has a plethora of weapons at his disposal this season, and will be expected to produce better numbers in his third NFL season.
Josh Johnson (No. 8)
Johnson was the Bengals' immediate replacement for former backup quarterback Bruce Gradkowski. He is familiar with Jay Gruden's offensive schemes from their time together in Tampa Bay. Johnson offers the only dual-threat option at quarterback for the Bengals—he is capable of making plays both with his arm and his legs. He should be the favorite to win the backup job behind Dalton.
John Skelton (No. 9)
The Bengals also brought in Skelton to compete with Johnson for the backup quarterback position. Skelton may be a slightly better passer than Johnson, but he lacks explosive ability. Skelton will be considered the underdog in this battle as the Bengals should only keep two quarterbacks on the active roster.
Zac Robinson (No. 5)
Robinson is a developmental project at the quarterback position and spent the duration of 2012 on the Bengals' practice squad. He has little chance to make the active roster this year and could very well find himself on the practice squad once again.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (No. 42)
Green-Ellis will return as the Bengals' primary running back for the 2013 season. He was the bell cow for the team last year and flourished in short-yardage situations. He will serve this purpose for the team once again this season—albeit in a committee-style approach to the backfield.
Giovani Bernard (No. 25)
Bernard—the Bengals' second-round selection in the 2013 NFL draft—will be featured in the backfield this season along with Green-Ellis. Bernard will serve as a shifty, change-of-pace back, as well as a receiver in certain packages. He brings some much-needed explosiveness to this Bengals offense.
Bernard Scott (No. 28)
Scott was intended to be the complementary back to Green-Ellis in 2012; however, and injury-plagued season barely allowed him time on the field. Now, Scott will have an uphill battle to make this roster due to the addition of Bernard.
Cedric Peerman (No. 30)
Peerman was a special-teams ace for the Bengals last season and could stick around on the roster due to his pedigree in that department. He will have stiff competition though, as he sits on the roster bubble with many other backs. Peerman will have to prove his worth throughout training camp and the preseason once again.
Dan Herron (No. 34)
Herron will be in a slugfest with Peerman for a roster spot. Neither running back has much to contribute on the offensive side of the ball; however, both are very valuable assets on special teams. This will be a very intriguing roster battle to watch.
Rex Burkhead (No. 33)
Burkhead may have a chance to make the final roster if the Bengals decide they do not want to keep a fullback. If that is the case, Burkhead could see playing time as a hybrid H-back. He will further his case if he can make a significant contribution on special teams.
Chris Pressley (No. 36)
Pressley was signed to a two-year deal before the beginning of the 2012 season. Unfortunately, he was lost due to injury during the final stretch of this past year. He returns as the favorite for the fullback position. However, it is uncertain if the Bengals will keep a true fullback on the roster this year.
John Conner (No. 32)
Conner may be the biggest long shot to make this roster. Not only will be have to surpass Pressley for the position, but he would need the coaching staff to decide to keep a traditional fullback on the roster. He certainly has his work cut out for him.
A.J. Green (No. 18)
Undoubtedly the most talented wide receiver on the Bengals roster—and possibly in the NFL in general—Green will return as the top target for Dalton once again in 2013. He will look to continue to lead by example throughout training camp, and put up monster numbers on Sundays.
Mohamed Sanu (No. 12)
Sanu could possibly be the Bengals' most versatile wide receiver on the roster. He can play both outside positions, the slot and can line up in the backfield. Sanu may not be labeled as the No. 2 wide receiver on the roster, but he will see the majority of playing time after Green.
Marvin Jones (No. 82)
Jones could very well end up being the No. 2 wide receiver on the Bengals roster this season. He has great speed, and is capable of stretching the field opposite Green. Jones built solid chemistry with Dalton toward the end of 2012 and will look to continue that during training camp this year.
Andrew Hawkins (No. 16)
Hawkins will continue to be the shifty, slot receiver to whom Gruden and Co. will try to feed the ball when he is in space. One of the most elusive players on the Bengals' roster, Hawkins will continue to play a large role both on offense and on special teams.
Cobi Hamilton (No. 87)
Hamilton has been one of the biggest surprises during offseason activities this year. He impressed the coaching staff during rookie minicamp and OTAs. If he can keep up his stellar play throughout training camp and the preseason, he could very well find his way onto the active roster.
Brandon Tate (No. 19)
Tate is not one of the most popular receivers on the Bengals' roster due to his poor decisions as a return specialist; however, there may not be a better option on the team right now. His return skills (or lack thereof) could be enough to keep him with the team in 2013.
Ryan Whalen (No. 88)
Whalen does not get much press, although he is one of the most reliable wide receivers on the roster. He has solid hands and is one of the best route-runners at wide receiver. He has not been utilized many times on the Bengals offense, but has flashed his reliability when given an opportunity.
Dane Sanzenbacher (No. 11)
Sanzenbacher was claimed off waivers by Cincinnati after his departure from Chicago last season. He will be a long shot to make the roster as a slot receiver. However, if he can impress during training camp he could leapfrog a few receivers on this roster.
Roy Roundtree (No. 86)
An undrafted free agent, Roundtree has an uphill battle to make this roster. He has shown some flashes during offseason workouts so far, but needs to show much more if he wants to stick on this roster. He could be a prime candidate for the practice squad this year.
Tyrone Goard (No. 17)
Like Roundtree, Goard has a long way to go if he intends to make the final roster. Also, like Roundtree, he went undrafted and could be a great candidate for the 2013 practice squad to continue his development.
Taveon Rogers (No. 83)
Rogers has been bouncing back and forth between cornerback and wide receiver. He is back at wide receiver for 2013 and virtually has no chance at making the roster. His best bet will be to stick around on the practice squad to hone his craft.
Jermaine Gresham (No. 84)
Gresham returns to the Bengals starting lineup as the incumbent No. 1 tight end. He had some nice moments in 2012, but struggled at times as well. He will need to improve his in-line blocking and amount of penalties received to keep the starting job out of the hands of Tyler Eifert.
Tyler Eifert (No. 85)
Eifert comes in as the Bengals' first-round selection in the 2013 NFL draft. He will be expected to make an immediate impact on the offense in two-tight end schemes, and as a substitute for Gresham. Eifert has impressed so far and looks to continue that trend during training camp.
Orson Charles (No. 80)
Charles is a very interesting case this year. He will be moved from a primary tight end to more of an H-back in this offense. He will be shifting between the responsibilities of a tight end and a fullback. This is a great position for Charles due to the fact that he is a fantastic blocker, which will help him see extra time on the field.
Alex Smith (No. 81)
Smith was brought in after spending the year with the Cleveland Browns in 2012. He is an athletic tight end and—despite being on the bubble—has a good chance to make this roster if the Bengals decide to keep four tight ends.
Richard Quinn (No. 89)
Despite making his debut in the league in 2009, Quinn is still eligible to be placed on the practice squad if the Bengals so choose. This will be his best bet if he wants to stick with the team—he has virtually no chance of making the 53-man roster.
Andrew Whitworth (No. 77)
Whitworth has been one of the most reliable offensive linemen for the Bengals for quite some time now. Tremendous in pass protection, he will anchor the offensive line on the left side once again in 2013.
Andre Smith (No. 71)
Smith will start once again at right tackle for the Bengals this season after he finally reached an agreement on a new contract with the team during the draft. He has been a no-show during OTAs and mandatory minicamp thus far, and is still a mystery with training camp on the horizon.
Anthony Collins (No. 73)
Collins gives the Bengals added depth and versatility at the tackle position. He is capable of playing both right and left tackle and should be a staple on the roster as a backup to these positions in 2013.
Dennis Roland (No. 74)
Roland can play both tackle and guard spots which makes him an asset as a backup on the offensive line. However, he stands at a towering 6'9", which can make things difficult for a quarterback with a smaller stature like Dalton under center.
Tanner Hawkinson (No. 72)
Hawkinson impressed the coaching staff with his versatility during rookie minicamp and OTAs. He was able to play all five positions on the offensive line during those workouts. The fifth-round selection may have already solidified his spot on the final roster.
Reid Fragel (No. 79)
Fragel—a seventh-round selection—could very well end up being a very solid—and cheap—addition as a backup right tackle. He lacks experience, but makes up for it with his high football IQ and willingness to learn.
Kevin Zeitler (No. 68)
Former first-round pick Kevin Zeitler enters his second season with the Bengals. He has quickly become one of the NFL's better guards and will look to continue to improve at the position in 2013.
Clint Boling (No. 65)
Boling was a last-minute starter at left guard in 2012 after an injury to Travelle Wharton in the preseason. He did well for a replacement, and excelled in pass protection. However, he still must improve his run blocking ability to be more effective as a starter.
Travelle Wharton (No. 70)
Wharton will be a mystery this season. He lost his starting job due to injury last year, and may not make the roster this season after the decent play of Boling in his absence. Wharton will be too expensive to keep around as a backup and will only stick around if he can reclaim the starting position.
Mike Pollak (No. 67)
Pollak was brought over from the Indianapolis Colts in free agency. This was a smart move by the Bengals—he will be a nice addition in training camp. However, he will not stick on the final roster unless he moves up the depth chart due to injury.
John Sullen (No. 61)
Sullen is a long shot to make the team as an undrafted free agent. He does have some nice size at 6'5" and 313 pounds, but is very raw and must improve greatly if he wishes to stick around. He could be a great prospect for the practice squad.
Kyle Cook (No. 64)
Cook should head into training camp as the incumbent starter after finishing out the 2012 season at the center position. He is now healthy and will be given every opportunity to keep his starting role on the offensive line over second-year player Trevor Robinson.
Trevor Robinson (No. 66)
Robinson is becoming a very valuable asset to the Bengals. He proved that he can start at center for the team—even if he was only capable of an average performance. However, he should be able to continue to grow and become more efficient with a year of experience under his belt. He will challenge Cook for the starting job at the center position.
T.J. Johnson (No. 60)
A seventh-round selection in the 2013 draft, Johnson will only make the roster if something unfortunate happens to one of the two men above him on the depth chart. Johnson was a workout warrior during the combine and shows plenty of promise. He could very well end up on the practice squad in 2013.
Michael Johnson (No. 93)
The club's franchise player for 2013 has high expectations to live up to after a career-high 11.5 sacks in 2012. He will get the start at right defensive end and prove that he is worth over $11 million.
Carlos Dunlap (No. 96)
Dunlap should be the starter at the left defensive end position this season. He has not put up huge sack totals over the past couple of seasons, but he must always be accounted for when healthy. He will be playing for a new contract this year.
Robert Geathers (No. 91)
Geathers is the veteran of the defensive line, and although he is not much of a pass-rusher these days, he excels against the run. He will find his way on the field in substitution packages on running downs.
Margus Hunt (No. 99)
A second-round selection in 2013, Hunt will see some playing time on defense as he continues to develop into an every-down player. His primary responsibility in 2013 will be special teams.
Wallace Gilberry (No. 95)
Gilberry was a surprise last season and became a great situational pass-rusher in the Bengals rotation. He should make the active roster once again this season and continue to be used in the same manner.
Dontay Moch (No. 52)
Moch moved from linebacker to defensive end due to his speed coming off the edge. However, his health concerns have kept him off the field and could result in his inability to claim a roster spot this season.
Jamaal Anderson (No. 90)
Anderson will be a good veteran presence to have around during training camp. The younger players at the defensive end position will be able to learn from his experience. However, that will be as far as Anderson goes this year—a spot on the final roster is highly unlikely.
DeQuin Evans (No. 69)
Evans is nowhere near a spot on the active roster. He spent most of 2011 and all of 2012 on the Bengals' practice squad. He should be using his opportunities during training camp and the preseason to audition for the other 31 NFL teams.
Geno Atkins (No. 97)
Atkins is highly regarded as the best defensive tackle in the NFL. He is coming off of a 2012 season which yielded a career-high 12.5 sacks. Atkins will have to take on a new role as mentor now with two emerging second-year players as backup defensive tackles.
Domata Peko (No. 94)
Peko has been a staple on the defensive line next to Atkins. He is not the most glamorous player on the Bengals' defensive line, but he is a grinder and can make an explosive play when needed. He will stick around and start next to Atkins once again this season.
Brandon Thompson (No. 79)
This second-year player may have the most to prove during training camp. He will need to fill the huge, run-stuffing shoes of Pat Sims, who departed in free agency. Thompson must step up quickly to keep a great interior defensive line rotation intact.
Devon Still (No. 75)
Still will step in as the backup to Atkins this season. Unfortunately, Still did not see much playing time toward the latter half of the 2012 season. However, Atkins is a multidimensional player and does not leave the field often.
Larry Black (No. 63)
Black comes in as an undrafted free agent and has a very small chance of sticking on the final roster. However, if he is able to impress during training camp and the preseason, there is a possibility that he could make an appearance on the practice squad.
Terrence Stephens (No. 62)
Stephens was offered a contract after a tryout with the Bengals. He was a vocal leader during his days at Stanford. If he can continue to show those assets during training camp, he could find himself on the practice squad.
James Harrison (No. 92)
This 35-year-old veteran is out to prove that he still has what it takes to start in the tough AFC North. He will certainly be a great, physical addition to the linebacker corps, and will be fun to watch during Hard Knocks.
Vontaze Burfict (No. 55)
For now, Burfict is slated to start on the weak side again this season. There is speculation that he will move to the middle; however, that has not been confirmed by the coaching staff. Either way, he is the Bengals' best linebacker and will be in the starting lineup one way or another.
Sean Porter (No. 56)
Porter is a fourth-round selection from 2013 and will be groomed under the veterans of the team until he is ready to take over. He will not see much action—aside from substitutions—this season, and will spend most of his time developing into an every-down linebacker.
Emmanuel Lamur (No. 59)
Lamur has looked really good in practice and has put on additional weight over the offseason. He may be the Bengals' best option at the weak-side linebacker position if Burfict is moved to the inside. Lamur will certainly make the roster—it is just unclear if he will be a starter or a backup at this point.
Vincent Rey (No. 57)
Rey should make the final roster again this year due to his contributions on special teams. He will not be asked to do much on the defensive side of the ball. However, after the loss of Dan Skuta to free agency, Rey is just the player to fill that void.
Aaron Maybin (No. 51)
This former first-round pick was the first offseason acquisition that the Bengals made. He will have an uphill battle to make the final roster. but if he can string together some impressive plays at the SAM position during training camp, he could find himself in the mix.
Brandon Joiner (No. 49)
Joiner is a great story. He joins the Bengals after serving time from legal troubles in his younger days. Now, he finally has a chance to play in the NFL. He will have a tough time making the roster, but could be a dark horse if he displays the athleticism that he showed in his past.
Jayson DiManche (No. 54)
Speaking of a dark horse, DiManche could be the Burfict of this year. He has freakish athletic ability and could be the new version of Moch (minus the migraines). Depending on his training camp and preseason performances, he could be in line to make the final roster.
Bruce Taylor (No. 53)
Taylor heads into camp as an undrafted free agent, and will have his work cut out for him if he expects to make the roster. He is even a long shot at making the practice squad due to the depth in front of him. Taylor will need some very impressive performances to catch the eye of the coaching staff.
Rey Maualuga (No. 58)
Maualuga enters training camp as the incumbent starter at middle linebacker after his new two-year deal signed over the offseason. He will stick as the starter at MIKE unless there is a shift in the linebacker corps that moves Burfict over to the middle in his place.
JK Schaffer (No. 50)
During the middle of last season, Schaffer was signed to the Bengals' practice squad. He is a likely candidate to return there due to the versatility of linebackers above him on the depth chart who are capable of playing multiple positions.
Jordan Campbell (No. 41)
One of the most talked about undrafted free agents, Campbell comes into camp as a long shot to make the roster. He had a respectable collegiate career while at New Mexico Highlands, but has a long way to go before he is able to contribute at the NFL level.
Leon Hall (No. 29)
Hall will be the Bengals' No. 1 cornerback again this season. He is highly regarded as one of the best in the league and will shadow the top receiver from opposing offenses. Hall should be healthy for the beginning of the season this year, and will look to capitalize on his stellar finish to the 2012 season.
Terence Newman (No. 23)
For now, Newman will be the starter opposite Hall. However, that could certainly change over the course of training camp with Dre Kirkpatrick waiting in the wings. Either way, Newman was very solid last season and will be a great contributor to the defensive secondary once again in 2013.
Adam Jones (No. 24)
Jones returns as the slot cornerback this season. Despite his recent off-the-field legal issues, he should not miss any time if he is not convicted. While we wait on a verdict, he will still be allowed to practice with the team throughout training camp.
Dre Kirkpatrick (No. 27)
A first-round selection from one year ago, Kirkpatrick aims to take the starting position opposite Hall away from Newman this season. Kirkpatrick is almost healed from an offseason knee surgery and should give Newman a run for his money throughout training camp and the preseason.
Brandon Ghee (No. 21)
Ghee has been plagued with injuries during his first three seasons in the NFL and has hardly seen any regular-season action due to these unfortunate circumstances. He will look to change that this year—he is now healthy and has already been impressive during offseason workouts.
Shaun Prater (No. 38)
Prater was a fifth-round selection one year ago. He missed all of last season due to injury, but has been impressive already in workouts this year. If Prater continues to impress, he could secure a spot on the Bengals' active roster in 2013.
Onterio McCalebb (No. 39)
McCalebb is a very interesting story. Known for his speed, this former running back has converted over to cornerback in effort to salvage his NFL career. So far, the conversion has been going well, and he could stick to the roster due to his great return abilities. However, he has plenty still to prove heading into training camp.
Chris Lewis-Harris (No. 37)
Lewis-Harris had a roller-coaster ride of a rookie season. He was signed to the practice squad after going undrafted out of college. Later, he was promoted to the active roster twice over the course of the regular season due to injuries to teammates. He needs to continue to impress the coaching staff once again in 2013 if he plans to stick around.
Troy Stoudermire (No. 22)
Stoudermire signed with the Bengals after going undrafted this season. He fits the mold of a Mike Zimmer-type cornerback very well due to his physical nature. He must impress greatly if he is looking to stick around—perhaps he is destined for a spot on the practice squad.
Terrence Brown (No. 47)
Brown headed to Cincinnati after going undrafted this year as well. He had a very nice pro day at Stanford, and needs to continue to impress during workouts if he is to continue his NFL career.
Reggie Nelson (No. 20)
One of the most underrated players on the Bengals' roster, Nelson will return as the starting strong safety in 2013. He has been a very reliable starter and has already solidified his roster spot.
Shawn Williams (No. 40)
Drafted in the third round this year, Williams will be the rookie that feels the most pressure during training camp. He is the only rookie that is expected to start—and produce—immediately. He was a great player and vocal leader while at Georgia—it will be interesting to see if he can transition his good attributes over to the NFL level.
Taylor Mays (No. 26)
Mays will more than likely be backing up Williams at free safety this season. Even though Mays has more experience in the NFL than the rookie, he needs more time to develop. Making risky plays while on the field has lead to Mays' demotion in the past and will keep him there in 2013.
George Iloka (No. 43)
Iloka will probably stick on the roster as the backup to Nelson. He has displayed some nice coverage abilities during offseason workouts, and has impressed the coaching staff now that he is healthy.
Jeromy Miles (No. 45)
Miles is a fantastic contributor on special teams and could earn a roster spot again this year because of his ability in that area. He showed a lack of awareness when spending time at the safety position last season and will need to improve if he plans to spend any time on defense in 2013.
Tony Dye (No. 44)
Dye joined the Bengals after going undrafted out of UCLA. His strength is in run support; however, it's not a good sign for him—the Bengals have a stronger need for coverage safeties. Dye will have his work cut out for him if he is even to make the practice squad.
Mike Nugent (No. 2)
Nugent returns to the Bengals after briefly losing his job last season to John Brown after a leg injury. The Bengals decided to stick with Nugent, who has been a very reliable kicker.
Kevin Huber (No. 10)
Huber will be the Bengals starting punter after his newly-signed contract over the offseason. He put up career-best numbers last year, and should look to improve upon those heading into the new season.
Quinn Sharp (No. 3)
Sharp is an interesting addition to the Bengals' training camp roster. He is a punter, but a kickoff specialist as well. He is an extreme long shot to make the team, but could save a roster spot if he were able to deliver a high performance in all phases of the kicking game.
Clark Harris (No. 46)
Harris was brought back along with Huber and Nugent over the offseason and will continue to be the Bengals ultra-reliable long snapper. He has not had an off-target snap since joining the Bengals and will look to keep that streak alive.