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All signs currently point to fourth overall pick A.J. Green becoming the Bengals' number one receiver and second-round choice Andy Dalton becoming the first Bengals opening day rookie quarterback since 1969.
With longtime Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco likely to be released, Terrell Owens going elsewhere via free agency and Carson Palmer at a stalemate with Bengals management, Green and Dalton earning starting positions comes as no big surprise.
However, I expect at least two other Bengals to emerge on the team's opening day starting lineup.
Offensive lineman Clint Boling out of Georgia and former West Virginia safety Robert Sands are my early favorites.
The Bengals have had nothing short of a revolving door at left guard for quite some time now, with Evan Mathis and Nate Livings both seeing time at the position. I expect Boling to beat both of the veterans out at the spot once preseason workouts begin.
Moreover, safety is a position the Bengals have desperately needed to address for quite some time.
Injuries have completely decimated this group for years, and the Bengals finally placed a long-term investment into the position. At 6'5" and 217 pounds, Sands will be an intimidating force roaming the backfield for the Bengals.
Roy Williams is past his prime, injury-prone and is a liability in pass coverage. Chris Crocker provided a spark for the team when they picked him up off the street in 2008, but is also fragile. Chinedum Ndukwe was a good find in the seventh round of the 2007 draft and is a regular contributor on special teams, but notoriously gives up big plays. Owner Mike Brown also praised the team's move of sending cornerback David Jones to Jacksonville Jaguars for former first-rounder Reggie Nelson last off-season, but Nelson is a suspect tackler.
Expect Sands to become one of the two best safeties in this group once preseason workouts get underway and ultimately crack the day one starting lineup.
As far as a dark horse goes, third-round linebacker Dontay Moch out of Nevada could be inserted at SAM linebacker. If Rey Maualuga makes the move to middle linebacker, which seems imminent, and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer places linebacker-defensive end hybrid Michael Johnson on the defensive line, I wouldn't be surprised to see the speedy linebacker earn significant time on the field.