Cincinnati Bengals: LaKendrick Ross

CINCINNATI -- In addition to terminating the contract of veteran running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis on Friday, the Cincinnati Bengals also waived three other players.

Quarterback Tyler Wilson, defensive tackle LaKendrick Ross and linebacker Brandon Joiner were released as the Bengals made their first few cuts from the current 75-man roster. By 4 p.m. Saturday, all 32 NFL teams have to get down to 53 players on their active rosters. Wilson, Ross and Joiner could qualify for the practice squad, but until all the other cuts are made, it's unclear exactly how the practice squad will shake out.

Cincinnati's roster now sits at 71.

Wilson was signed during the preseason following No. 2 quarterback Jason Campbell's elbow injury during the preseason opener at Kansas City. Wilson has since appeared in two games. He played in the Week 2 preseason game against the Jets and got extensive second-half action in Thursday night's preseason finale against the Colts. He was 3-of-5 for 73 yards. The bulk of his yards came on a 50-yard touchdown pass to Cobi Hamilton, another roster-bubble player who was one of Wilson's receivers when the two played college ball at Arkansas.

Hamilton will learn his fate Saturday.

As for Ross, the Bengals are cutting ties for now with a 6-foot-5, 360-pound player who has raw athletic skills. He was too unpolished to make the Bengals' 53-man roster, or any team's 53-man roster. Before impressing coaches at a private workout before training camp, Ross had played only one year of high school football and one year of college football at a small school in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Ross had one tackle Thursday and appeared on 23 defensive plays.

Joiner played 29 defensive snaps and was part of 15 special teams plays in the Bengals' 35-7 win.

In addition to these four, the Bengals also cut several others earlier this week, including backup quarterback Matt Scott, kicker Quinn Sharp and linebacker J.K. Schaffer. Per the rules of the waived/injured designation, Schaffer and fellow hurt cornerback Lavelle Westbrooks were able to rejoin the team on its injured reserve Thursday. Both cleared waivers without being claimed.

Projecting Bengals practice squad

August, 20, 2014
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CINCINNATI -- Two more jobs just came open for the Cincinnati Bengals.

On Tuesday afternoon the NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed to expand practice squad rosters for this season and next season from eight players to 10. Though the 53-man roster remains unchanged and still holds the highest value, the Bengals and every other team now have space to keep additional players when the preseason officially ends.

Practice squad eligibility also was tweaked under the new agreement. In order to qualify for accruing a practice squad season, a player must have a minimum of six games on the practice squad instead of three games, extending the amount of playing time a player can have and still be eligible for the practice squad.

Additionally, teams are now permitted to sign a maximum of two practice squad players who have earned no more than two accrued seasons of free-agency credit. Absent that exception, a player who has earned one or more accrued seasons would not be eligible for a practice squad unless the player spent fewer than nine games on a team's 46-player active list in each of his accrued seasons. That means third-year players could qualify for the practice squad.

Here are 10 Bengals I'd consider for the practice squad:

Scott
QB Matt Scott
It seems evident the Bengals are trying to put AJ McCarron on an injury-list to keep him off the practice squad where he could be claimed by another team. If that is the case, and the Bengals enter the season with just two quarterbacks -- Andy Dalton and Jason Campbell -- I could see them keeping a third who could be called off the practice squad.

RB James Wilder Jr.
The Bengals view Wilder as a project right now with physical tools any team would love to use. He won't make the 53-man roster, but I expect the Bengals to keep him around this way.

WR Colin Lockett
Lockett has so many special teams intangibles as a returner and special teamer that the Bengals have reasons to keep him around and evaluate him further. He won't make the 53-man roster because of the depth at receiver, but he could be a solid addition to help the defense prepare this season for speedy and shifty slot receivers like former Bengal Andrew Hawkins.

Hamilton
WR Cobi Hamilton
Cincinnati didn't enter this season with plans of putting Hamilton on practice squad for a second-straight season, but his play has warranted it. He has not dominated the position battle he is in with James Wright and Ryan Whalen, among others. Consistency and drops have been the issue. When he has looked good, though, he has looked really good. He will be beaten out for a job on the 53-man roster, but should still be part of the club.

OL Trey Hopkins
I've still got Hopkins pegged as a bubble player, but I'm thinking he ultimately makes the 53-man roster. He has too many intangibles as an undrafted rookie to be put on the practice squad, but in the event there isn't enough room for him on the 53-man, he could go here.

DE Will Clarke
Like Hopkins, I believe Clarke ends up making the 53-man roster, but in the event the Bengals want to eat one of their defensive line positions to open up an opportunity elsewhere on the roster, I could see Clarke going to the practice squad. He could be like McCarron, though, in the sense that you don't want someone poaching the talented rookie away.

DT LaKendrick Ross
The Bengals liked the young and little-known Ross enough to sign him, so I'm not expecting him to get cut this year. He's a completely raw and unpolished product who had FBS offers, but ended up at tiny Virginia-Lynchburg, where he used his size to completely overpower opposing offensive lines. He only had one college season, so a year on the practice squad could benefit him.

LB James Davidson
You haven't heard much about Davidson from camp, but he's been a fairly consistent contributor on special teams and defense. He also has been receptive to coaching from both coaches and his teammates. If he survives waivers, the undrafted rookie could end up here.

CB Chris Lewis-Harris
Lewis-Harris has had a fairly impressive preseason, even after getting suspended during it for a violation of the league's substance abuse policy. He will be unavailable for the first two regular-season games, but still can be on the overall roster. He would be one of those third-year eligible players. A crowded cornerback room might land him back on the practice squad.

CB Lavelle Westbrooks
This final spot was a tough determination. It came down to choosing Westbrooks over Isaiah Lewis, the undrafted rookie safety from Michigan State. It seems to me that Westbrooks has had a better preseason. Still, the Bengals might want a safety instead of two cornerbacks, making Lewis would be a better fit for the practice squad.
CINCINNATI -- As the Cincinnati Bengals get going with Day 5 of training camp Monday, here are three items we're going to be watching:

Defensive line a focus. Admittedly, it's been a challenge keeping tabs on the defensive line through the first four practices. Until the Bengals are permitted to do a bit more hitting, it's hard sometimes to gauge how well the line is playing compared to other positions in which it's a little more apparent how well they're executing. The defensive line's rotation also hasn't changed much since the spring. If there's one area that is set on the team, it's this one. Still, it's worth taking a peek at the line, specifically 360-pound LaKendrick Ross, a possible practice squad addition who is eager to learn NFL defensive tackle techniques.

Can Hill sustain his play? I'm also interested in watching rookie running back Jeremy Hill and seeing if he can sustain some of the solid play he showcased in Sunday's workout. He was good in blitz pickup and even better in some of the half-line drills the Bengals ran as they split up their weakside and strongside groups. Expectations are high for the second-rounder in this camp, and it's important to coaches to see steady growth. I'll be interested to see if he's able to keep it going Monday.

Tate more than a returner? Receiver and return specialist Brandon Tate is trying to prove to coaches that he's more than a pure return man. He wants them to value him as an offensive weapon, too. Versatility could be the difference getting one of the last roster spots. I'll be keeping tabs on how Tate is doing Monday.

Bengals Camp Report: Day 3

July, 26, 2014
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CINCINNATI -- A daily review of the hot topics coming out of the Cincinnati Bengals' training camp:
  • Offense was the big story for the Bengals through the first two days of training camp, but on Saturday, defense stole the headlines. Cornerbacks Adam Jones and Darqueze Dennard had a few key pass breakups and interceptions in a practice that hinged largely on third-down play. Jones rebounded after giving up a few receptions in one-on-one drills with receivers. By the end of the 11-on-11 portion of practice, he was stopping most everything that came his direction. Arguably his most noteworthy pass breakup occurred off a play-action fake from quarterback Andy Dalton. As Dalton threw off his back leg and hung a deep pass to A.J. Green, Jones turned and jumped in the path of the ball, knocking it down. Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said Jones has played with good technique through the first three days. He added that veteran Terence Newman has as well. "It's good for our younger guys to see how they play and how they're out here competing every snap."
  • One of those younger players, the rookie Dennard, had the play of the day when he dove full length for a Dalton pass that flew wide of its mark. It was hard to tell whether Dalton threw the pass to the wrong spot or if the receiver ran the wrong route, but Dennard, playing in the familiar lockdown style that was his hallmark at Michigan State, saw the ball heading toward the sideline even as the receiver didn't. Players and fans both reacted favorably to the pickoff. "Saturday] was the first day we could play press-man on the receiver, and that's what he did at Michigan State, so he's back in his comfort zone doing what he does. He's just got to continue to get better and work on his technique, and going against good receivers every day will help him."
  • One of the cornerbacks who did not take part in the live offense vs. defense portions of the workout was Leon Hall. The veteran is still rebounding from an Achilles tear that ended his 2013 season in Week 7. It was out of an abundance of caution that the Bengals held him out of most of the practice, even though he still participated in position-specific drills early in the session. Although he's fully recovered from the serious injury, the staff still wants to ease him back into action.
  • Along with Hall, the Bengals are taking a similar slow approach with offensive linemen Clint Boling and Mike Pollak. The left guards are rotating days on and off for the foreseeable future. After Boling started at the position Thursday, Pollak took his share of snaps Friday. Keeping with the rotation, Boling claimed the starting reps at the spot Saturday. Both still dressed in the shoulder pads-and-shorts attire the rest of the team sported as the full-gear acclimation period begins to slow down. The team will be in full pads Sunday.
  • The Bengals had two injuries during Saturday's practice. Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick pulled up, holding his right hamstring, after using good coverage to prevent Green from catching a pass from Dalton off a deep go route. Kirkpatrick was stretched out but didn't return to practice. Defensive tackle LaKendrick Ross had a minor injury as well, jogging off the field at one point for treatment. He ended up returning and finishing the practice.

Bengals sign DT LaKendrick Ross

July, 21, 2014
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CINCINNATI -- Three days before their full team begins training camp, the Cincinnati Bengals made a pair of roster moves Monday when they signed defensive tackle LaKendrick Ross, a large-in-stature lineman who went without getting selected in the supplemental draft earlier this offseason, and released receiver Alex Neutz.

An undrafted free agent who played college football at Buffalo last season, Neutz went through organized team activities and minicamp this spring before getting cut this week.

Ross took Neutz’s place, the team announced. The moves mean the Bengals still have 89 players on their preseason roster, one shy of the 90-man limit.

Ross' agent, Glen Lansky, told ESPN.com earlier in the day that his 6-foot-5, 365-pound client was joining the Bengals after a successful tryout at Paul Brown Stadium. Aaron Wilson of the National Football Post and the Baltimore Sun first broke news of Ross’ signing.

"He's a big body and a great fit for the Bengals," Lansky said to ESPN.com. "He holds his weight well."

How well does he hold his weight and move with it? There's video on YouTube of the big lineman dunking a basketball.

One of the more intriguing qualities about Ross is the fact that he's a bit of an unproven talent. He only played one year of football in high school and also spent just one season playing in college at Virginia-Lynchburg, a small university that's part of the United States Collegiate Athletic Association. He was eligible for the supplemental draft but went undrafted even after 12 teams attended a pro day workout Lansky coordinated.

After the draft, the goal was to get Ross a tryout with a team that seemed a logical fit, Lansky said. The agent coordinated the workout with the Bengals last week. Cincinnati added Ross in an effort to get another body on the defensive line for training camp as veteran Geno Atkins continues recovering from offseason ACL surgery. The Bengals are hopeful Atkins will be fully healthy by the Sept. 7 opener. If Ross makes the 53-man roster, he would give them added depth and a bigger presence in run-stop and goal-line situations.
At 365 pounds, Ross is 25 pounds heavier than the Bengals' next-biggest player: 340-pound offensive tackle Andre Smith. Listed at 322 pounds on Bengals.com, Domata Peko now is the next heaviest defensive lineman.

Lansky told ESPN.com Ross signed a standard three-year undrafted free agent contract. With it, he joins James Wilder Jr., Ryan Hewitt, Victor Hampton and now seven others in trying to make the team as an undrafted free agent.

Rookies arrived Monday for the Bengals' training camp, which officially begins Thursday when the full squad is assembled.

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