- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Most significant move. The Bengals surprisingly cut John Conner and kept Orson Charles. This means the Bengals aren't going with a traditional fullback. The Bengals will use two tight ends in their primary formation with Jermaine Gresham and first-round pick Tyler Eifert. When the Bengals need a lead blocker, they'll go with Charles, who is more of an H-back. Conner worked with the starting offense in the preseason finale and was the lead blocker on Giovani Bernard's one-yard touchdown. He also played a part in the top rushing attack in the preseason.
Cincinnati also cut offensive tackle Dennis Roland, who joined the Bengals in 2008 and played in every game for the previous four seasons. Rookie fifth-round pick Tanner Hawkinson made Roland expendable. And, as expected, the Bengals parted ways with defensive end Dontay Moch, a disappointing third-round pick who never produced a tackle in two seasons with the team. The release of quarterback John Skelton means Josh Johnson is the backup to Andy Dalton.
Surplus at two spots. Most expected the Bengals to choose between Ryan Whalen and Dane Sanzenbacher. But they kept both. Sanzenbacher helped his cause by producing big plays as a receiver (averaged 20 yards on five catches) and punt returner (71-yard touchdown) in the preseason. The Bengals are carrying seven wide receivers for the second straight season. They did waive Cobi Hamilton but the rookie sixth-round pick is expected to go on the practice squad.
The Bengals decided to keep five safeties, the same amount as cornerbacks. George Iloka is listed as the starter with Reggie Nelson, but rookie third-round pick Shawn Williams will likely be the eventual starter. Like wide receiver, Cincinnati was expected to choose between Taylor Mays and Jeromy Miles for the fourth safety spot and it kept both. Miles survived because of his play on special teams.
What's next. The Bengals likely will put wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (ankle) on the injured reserve-designated to return list, but they can't make the move until after 4 p.m. Tuesday. Based on its numbers at linebacker, that's the position Cincinnati will look at on the waiver wire. The Bengals are currently carrying five: James Harrison, Vontaze Burfict, Rey Maualuga, Jayson DiManche and Vincent Rey. The Bengals will probably sign linebacker J.K. Schaffer, the leading tackler in the preseason, on the practice squad after waiving him Saturday. The Bengals may add a sixth cornerback.
Here are the moves made by the Bengals to get down to the league limit of 53:
Waived: FB John Conner, TE-LS Bryce Davis, S Tony Dye, OT Reid Fragel, WR Cobi Hamilton, RB Dan Herron, C T.J. Johnson, CB Chris Lewis-Harris, CB Onterio McCalebb, DE Dontay Moch, CB Shaun Prater, WR Taveon Rogers, WR Roy Roundtree, LB J.K. Schaffer, QB John Skelton, DT Terrence Stephens, G John Sullen, LB Bruce Taylor.
Contract terminated: OT Dennis Roland.
Physically Unable to Perform list: RB Bernard Scott.
Injured reserve: LB Emmanuel Lamur (shoulder).