One of the best things about following an NFL training camp is watching the young players improve game by game. Watching roster bubble veterans compete is entertaining also. The Bengals have two games in the books, giving the coaches and fans time to evaluate.
This list does not include anyone who was previously thought to be a lock to make the team. Most expected guys like Jermaine Gresham, Jordan Shipley, and Carlos Dunlap to play a lot.
Here are the top five Bengals who are moving up the depth chart.
First-year center Reggie Stephens stepped in for Kyle Cook against Denver's first team. Stephens performed better than most expected. He refused to quit until the play was over.
On August 18, second-year center Jonathan Luigs was released. That move, along with Stephens' big potential, may have solidified a roster spot.
We all know about Jerome Simpson's athleticism. Marvin Lewis has reminded us many times. This preseason, Simpson has shown toughness while making contact with defensive backs.
The wide receiver position is an interesting battle to follow. If Simpson continues to beat tackles and get extra yards after the hit, he could stick.
David Jones’ 24-yard interception return for a touchdown sparked a turnaround for the Bengals against the Broncos. Jones has played better than the other cornerbacks fighting for a roster spot. As the pick-six showed, he has the ability to read the quick pass.
Right now, Jones has Johnathan Joseph, Leon Hall, Morgan Trent, and Adam Jones ahead of him on the depth chart.
The Broncos couldn't contain Clinton McDonald. He stood out among the other defensive players as a high-motor player. McDonald was in on a lot of plays. He tied for the team lead in tackles with four.
He could definitely find himself on the roster against the Patriots.
Everyone knows about Geno Atkins by now. He looked great against the Broncos' first string left guard and center. He's tied for the team lead in tackles with four, he had 1.5 sacks, and he recorded a tackle-for-loss and two quarterback hits.
Tank Johnson and Atkins in a rotation could be trouble for opposing offenses. Atkins is playing at a high level. He needs to be tested more against first stringers, but for now, he looks like a key lineman in the rotation.