Miami Dolphins defensive end Dion Jordan pressured St. Louis Rams quarterback Garrett Gilbert on the final drive Thursday to help seal Miami’s 14-13 preseason victory. But after the final snap and in the locker room, reality set in for the Dolphins that Jordan will not be available for the next month while he serves his four-game suspension.

Joseph
Jordan
Jordan tested positive for a banned substance this summer. Friday marks the official start of his suspension, and Jordan must stay away from the team and the facility for the next four games.

The 2013 No. 3 overall pick had two tackles and a quarterback pressure in Miami’s preseason finale and showed flashes of what the Dolphins are missing. Jordan will miss games against the New England Patriots, Buffalo Bills, Kansas City Chiefs and Oakland Raiders.

"I mean, it’s really tough," Jordan said. "Missing out on all the work that I put in leading up to this point. My guys are heading into the season with a big game and I’m not going to be able to be there. I mean, it’s unfortunate but at the same time, I mean, I understand the situation I’m in and I got to deal with the consequences."

Jordan vows to stay in shape and continue to work on his game. He mentioned the potential of working out with an independent defensive line coach during his suspension if it is within the rules. Jordan cannot work with anyone from the Dolphins organization for the next four weeks.

Jordan showed growth in some areas in training camp and the preseason. But the second-year defensive end still must refine his game to be an every-down defensive lineman.

The suspension loomed over Jordan for weeks, but to his credit he didn’t go into the tank and had a productive summer.

"I understood going into these first four games what the deal was," Jordan said. "I had to make these snaps count at game time and at practice. I then had to make sure I rose my level of play. So when I do step away, I mean, I at least put something in."

In addition to Jordan, starting safety Reshad Jones also is serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
INDIANAPOLIS -- After three weeks of training camp, four preseason games and more than a handful of practices at their facility, it’s time for the regular season to start for the Indianapolis Colts.

Holmes
And just like when they reported to training camp at Anderson (Indiana) University on July 23, the Colts head into the regular season with legitimate concerns about their offensive line outside of starting tackles Anthony Castonzo and Gosder Cherilus.

The projected starters on the interior of the offensive line -- center Khaled Holmes, guard Hugh Thornton and guard Jack Mewhort -- only played a few snaps together because of injuries.

Holmes sprained his ankle on the first series in the preseason opener against the New York Jets on Aug. 7. He has yet to practice and the Colts are "hopeful" that he will be ready for the Sept. 7 game in Denver. It’s not like Holmes has an an upper body injury that would allow him to work on his conditioning while injured. He will need some time to work himself back into shape.

The youth and lack of practice time for the interior part of the offensive line is a scary thought when you take into account the Colts are about to face the team that represented the AFC in the Super Bowl last season. It's definitely not good for quarterback Andrew Luck and the running backs.

That is only the start of the problems for the offensive line.

Jonotthan Harrison, Xavier Nixon and Joe Reitz were also injured in the preseason. It got so bad that defensive end Tyler Hoover played 56 snaps at tackle against Cincinnati on Thursday.

"We’ve got a lot of injuries," coach Chuck Pagano said. "We don’t have a lot of time. And you know what? Nobody really cares, and nobody really feels sorry for us. So, it’s next man up."

Don’t get too excited about the 53-man roster once the Colts release it this weekend. The moving parts on the roster won’t stop after that because GM Ryan Grigson will be paying attention to the waiver wire so he can add some more bodies to the offensive line.

It has gotten to that point for the Colts before they have even played one regular-season game.

The Colts have plenty of playmakers at quarterback, receiver, tight end and potentially at running back. But none of that will matter if the five guys up front can’t run block or pass protect. And right now, you have to wonder if they will be able to do those things.
Ray Rice is suspended for the first two games of the regular season and Bernard Pierce didn't make the trip to New Orleans for the final preseason game because of a concussion.

So if Pierce is unable to play in the season opener, who would start at running back for the Baltimore Ravens? Veteran journeyman Justin Forsett, who hasn't made a start since 2010, could be the one to step up.

Of the Ravens' 24 healthy scratches in the preseason finale, 18 are projected to be starters. The fact that Forsett didn't play as well could suggest the Ravens wanted to keep him healthy for the opener.

The Ravens might trust Forsett to handle the starting role because he's more experienced than rookie Lorenzo Taliaferro and is more familiar with Gary Kubiak's offense after playing in Houston in 2012.

But Forsett wouldn't be asked to carry the entire rushing load. He only had six carries all of last season, and the Ravens would probably split carries with Taliaferro, who led the team with 243 yards rushing this preseason.

A small back, Forsett has impressed the Ravens with his burst. He ran for 69 yards on 16 carries (4.3-yard average) and caught three passes for 37 yards in preseason games. His biggest problem has been holding on to the football (two fumbles this preseason).

None of this speculation will matter if Pierce is able to suit up for the Sept. 7 season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. Even though Pierce has been banged up throughout his career, he has never missed a game in his two seasons.

There is just no certainty that he'll be healthy enough this time to play.

"Nowadays, with those things, I don't take any stock in that until they tell me that he's back," coach John Harbaugh said Monday. "The concussion thing is hard to predict."
With final cuts looming, here's a look at how the Philadelphia Eagles' final 53-man roster could pan out:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
This was always the group. If Barkley had played poorly during the preseason, then maybe Chip Kelly would have gone light at QB. But Barkley's performance against the Jets Thursday night, combined with Kelly's "you-can't-have-too-many-quarterbacks" credo, pretty much assures the Eagles will keep three.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

If Chris Polk stays despite missing the entire preseason with a hamstring injury, that pretty much tells you the other guys were wasting their time out there. Josey played really well Thursday night, well enough to stay. If Polk stays, Josey could be on the practice squad.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

Going with six receivers now and dropping an offensive lineman. But this list is probably off because there's no Jeff Maehl. He appears to be bulletproof, even though Benn looked much more compelling Thursday night against the Jets.

TIGHT ENDS (3)
Trey Burton made a strong case for himself Thursday night as both a receiver and a blocker. But with these three in place, it appears Burton could be looking at the practice squad this year.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

The ankle injury sustained by Tobin could change this list. The coaches really like Tobin as the four-position backup with Barbre starting for Lane Johnson. As it is, someone is holding a place until Lane Johnson gets back in Week 5.

DEFENSIVE LINE (7)
Damion Square could still go on the practice squad if he doesn't make the cut. He's the one guy who could change this list. But Logan and Allen seem pretty well established as nose tackles right now.

LINEBACKERS (9)

This may be heavy, but Long and Emmanuel Acho are making it pretty tough to cut down to eight. This still has Casey Matthews on the outs, and he's another guy who has appeared bulletproof before now. We'll see.

SAFETIES (4)

One more linebacker means one less safety. It's math, people. Ed Reynolds could be on the practice squad.

CORNERBACKS (5)

This is another tough group to figure out. Roc Carmichael has played well at times and was here last year. Curtis Marsh has gotten a long look this summer. But the addition of Carroll and the rookie Watkins simply makes roster space tight.

SPECIALISTS (3)

It may seem rash to put Parkey ahead of Alex Henery based on one preseason game, even if Parkey hit two beyond-50-yard field goals. But the inclination to upgrade at this position has been building for months, and now is the time to act.
Examining the New England Patriots' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Garoppolo has made a serious run at the No. 2 job, putting Mallett's spot in jeopardy. Mallett sticks here because Bill Belichick has previously talked about how quarterback is one position where a team can never have enough depth.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Played a hunch at this spot last week with Ridley and looks like that was off the mark. Haven't seen enough spark from White to move away from Ridley.

FULLBACKS (1)

That he was held out of the preseason finale speaks to the valuable contributor that he has become.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

If the preseason finale is any indication, with Wright playing 43 of 70 snaps (including penalties), the former Buccaneer is going to be a significant part of the team's plans.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

Haven't seen enough from Josh Boyce to warrant giving him a roster spot. Wonder if there would be any trade interest there.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

The Logan Mankins trade came down so quickly on Tuesday, it reshapes the look of this group significantly. Chris Barker, Jon Halapio and/or Braxston Cave are strong practice squad candidates.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Vellano's standing was reflected in that he didn't play in the preseason finale, which probably means he has earned a spot. Jerel Worthy to the practice squad?

LINEBACKERS (6)

Beauharnais has been back and forth between the roster and practice squad in past projections, but his value in leading the defense is deemed important in the final projection, especially with Mayo and Hightower dealing with ailments that have kept them off the field.

CORNERBACKS (6*)

Because Browner is suspended for the first four regular-season games, he won't count against the initial 53-man roster limit. But he is included here because he is obviously a significant part of the team's overall planning for the 2014 season. Butler, an undrafted free agent from West Alabama, was the surprise story of the preseason. Now the question is who starts opposite Revis.

SAFETIES (4)

In an unexpected twist, it looks like Chung and Wilson could provide more value to the team from a defensive/special teams standpoint than Duron Harmon, who is eligible for the practice squad and could land there.

SPECIALISTS (4)

No surprises here, unless the Patriots keep their eyes on available snappers.

Dallas Cowboys' projected roster

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IRVING, Texas -- Examining the Dallas Cowboys' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
I'm holding firm with two quarterbacks and believe the Cowboys will be able to slide Dustin Vaughan to the practice squad. He has some skills that might be worth developing, but not even Romo's worrisome back has me keeping a third quarterback. They have too many other needs.

RUNNING BACKS (4)
Ryan Williams is among the Cowboys' best 53 players but they just can't find a way to get him to the game on Sundays to make it worthwhile to keep him on the roster. There is this possibility: If he clears waivers he has practice squad eligibilty. I kept Clutts because I believe Jason Garrett will fight to keep a fullback.

WIDE RECEIVERS (5)

This has been the same group all year. LaRon Byrd has practice squad eligibility, so he could be back if he clears waivers.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

This group hasn't changed either, but they could look for more of a blocking tight end if they don't believe it is worth it to keep Clutts.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)



Stephen Jones said the other day that going with eight offensive linemen was too light, so I added a ninth. I just don't think that guy is on the roster. John Wetzel didn't solidify a spot on Thursday. Darrion Weems missed the whole preseaon. Nwaneri also struggled against the Broncos, which could put his spot in jeopardy. The Cowboys only dress seven linemen for games, so they can take some waiver-wire pickups to work with early on.

DEFENSIVE LINE (11)



Lawrence is back on the roster because he has to be on the team through Tuesday before he can be placed on short-term injured reserve. Of all the guys on the bubble Boatright helped himself the most, so gets the final spot away from Dartwan Bush. The Cowboys will look for help outside of the building with this group. Just because these guys are on the roster Saturday doesn't mean they will be on the team Sunday.

LINEBACKERS (6)

I've had seven linebackers but I had to move to six in part because Lawrence needs to be on the active roster for the first couple of days. Will Smith would be the seventh but the Cowboys look for help on the street for a special teams type like they did a year ago in Kyle Bosworth.

CORNERBACKS (5)

The decision to cut B.W. Webb was only surprising because of how inexeprienced they will be with their backups. Webb didn't do enough to make the team and was a disappointment as a fourth-round pick. Patmon is one of those feel-good stories, making the team after earning a rookie camp tryout. I don't think Mitchell should sleep well these next few days. He just has taken too many penalties and might need some practice squad seasoning.

SAFETIES (5)



The Cowboys claimed Thomas off waivers from New England on Wednesday and he played Thursday. He is a player they liked coming in the draft, so he gets the final spot with Jakar Hamilton suspended the first four games for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Like at every other spot on defense, however, the Cowboys will look for help outside the building.

SPECIALISTS (3)

There has not been a change here all summer.

Buffalo Bills' projected roster

August, 29, 2014
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Examining the Buffalo Bills' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Anyone have a coin to flip? That's the way this position could go. The Bills will be monitoring the waiver wire closely in the next few days. If better backup options than Tuel or Palmer become available, that's the way they could go.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

No changes here. This group appears set.

FULLBACKS (1)

No changes here. Still no spot for Evan Rodriguez.

RECEIVERS (6)

No changes here. Will another injury to Watkins open a spot for T.J. Graham? We'll say no.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

No changes here. This projection leaves off Tony Moeaki, who still hasn't been able to return from a hamstring injury. The Bills could probably bring him back later -- at a reduced cost -- if they desire.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

No changes here. Sticking with both Urbik and Legursky for now, although it's possible the Bills only keep one of the two veteran interior men in the long-term. Williams' injury "concerns" Doug Marrone, providing more reason to go nine-deep here.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

No changes here. The Bills might not keep all nine of these players in the long-term, but for now, they're worth sticking around.

LINEBACKERS (5)

No changes here. Brown starts for Bradham in Week 1 and this unit gets back to full strength in Week 2.

CORNERBACKS (6)

No changes here. Gilmore and Graham missed the preseason finale with injuries.

SAFETIES (4)

No changes here. Searcy looks to have edged out Duke Williams for the competition to start next to Aaron Williams.

SPECIALISTS (3)

No changes here. Marrone is still kicking around the idea of a kickoff specialist, which could give Jordan Gay a chance to stick. They'll be working off a small sample size.

Cleveland Browns' projected roster

August, 29, 2014
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Examining the Cleveland Browns' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

Grossman secured the third spot with the way he played against Chicago.

RUNNING BACKS (3)

It's impossible to ignore the way Crowell ran against the Bears. He looked quick, strong and topped 100 yards. If the Browns released him, they'd never get him back on the practice squad. He earned a spot.

FULLBACKS (2)

Gray is about as solidly on the bubble as any player on the team. His versatility should have helped him, but he did not play tremendously well in the preseason.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6)

Not exactly a well-stocked group. Gabriel earned a spot with solid play. Snead earns it based on potential, but don't be surprised if his spot goes to someone who was cut by another team. Snead seems more like a practice squad candidate.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

The Browns are well-fortified with the three tight ends they have.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

A group that seems very settled.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (7)

Another unit that seems pretty well stocked.

LINEBACKERS (7)

The Browns could keep eight here and not keep Snead or Gray, except nobody really jumped out as an active pass-rushing type. So go with these seven.

CORNERBACKS (6)

The Browns will scan the waiver wire here, and may be as active trying to strengthen this spot as they will be at receiver. Depth is needed. Badly.

SAFETIES (4)

It's a toss-up for the fourth safety spot between Poyer and Josh Aubrey. I like Aubrey, but he could be practice squad eligible. The coaches also seem to like Poyer.

SPECIALISTS (3)

No need to change anything here, as all were strong and dependable contributors.

Carolina Panthers' projected roster

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Examining the Carolina Panthers' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Webb looked expendable until Newton suffered a fractured rib in the third preseason game against New England. Coach Ron Rivera was fairly adamant the Panthers will keep three quarterbacks until it is clear Newton is healthy -- and maybe longer.

RUNNING BACKS (4)

Whittaker emerged as the fourth back after the trade of Kenjon Barner to Philadelphia. Darrin Reaves still could figure into the mix, but with three quarterbacks, that doesn't appear likely now.

RECEIVERS (6)

This became clearer when Tiquan Underwood, Kealoha Pilares and Toney Clemons were released. It still wouldn't surprise if the Panthers picked up a receiver/kick returner off waivers after final cuts.

TIGHT ENDS (4)
Mike McNeill was signed to a two-year deal early in free agency, but with the emergence of Williams and a nagging knee injury, he becomes expendable. It still wouldn't surprise if the Panthers kept five tight ends at what has become the deepest position outside of the defensive front. That likely would mean eight linemen instead of nine.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

The key here is flexibility, which might mean eight instead of nine if the Panthers choose to keep five tight ends. Williams and Chandler can play tackle or guard. Turner can play guard and backup center. Folkerts and Velasco can play center and guard. Undrafted rookie tackle David Foucault appears to be the odd man out.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

As I continue to say, don't forget defensive end Frank Alexander. He has had a great preseason, earning Rivera's vote as the MVP of camp in Spartanburg, South Carolina. But he will be suspended for the first four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He will return to the 53-man roster in October.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Again, flexibility is key. Blackburn, who missed the past two preseason games with a back injury, can step in and replace Kuechly if he ever had to come off the field. He's more dependable than Klein there. Many of these players will be on special teams. D.J. Smith could figure into the mix.

CORNERBACKS (5)

The starters appear set in Cason and White. Benwikere and Godfrey will share the nickel spot. Norman is having another good preseason. This makes Josh Thomas the odd man out.

SAFETIES (4)

Flip a coin between Russell and Robert Lester for the final spot. As insurance, the Panthers are working safety-turned-cornerback Godfrey back at safety some. Godfrey's versatility to do both allows the Panthers to go with one less defensive back and keep three quarterbacks. The plan for fourth-round pick Tre Boston likely will be injured reserve or waived injured and then re-signed and placed on the practice squad.

SPECIALISTS (3)

These positions are set, barring an injury.

Houston Texans' projected roster

August, 29, 2014
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Examining the Houston Texans' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
Keenum and Savage took all the reps Thursday night, and neither player's performance was pretty. Each completed eight passes and threw one interception. Keenum finished with a 33.9 passer rating while Savage finished with a 37.8 rating. This was supposed to be the night when one distinguished himself as the team's backup quarterback. Coach Bill O'Brien has never fully committed to saying these three are the ones who will be on the roster next week, but usually he leans that way. On Thursday night, he didn't have an answer on whether he would keep all three currently on the roster without examining the film.

RUNNING BACKS/FULLBACKS (5)

You could argue that Brown is someone who would be available at any point in the season, should the Texans need his services. I think that logic could lead to this group being one thinner, but I still like his value in helping younger running backs learn the professional game.

RECEIVERS (5)

It's tough to not keep a sixth receiver with Travis Labhart and EZ Nwachukwu doing some good things this summer. I would say Nwachukwu began ahead of Labhart, and Labhart caught him as the preseason progressed. If the running back group thins by one, this is probably where that spot will go.

TIGHT ENDS (4)

Fiedorowicz quickly passed Griffin, who entered offseason workouts as Graham's backup. This is an offense that will utilize tight ends heavily.

OFFENSIVE LINE (8)

Again, a little thin here, but these eight players include four who can play tackle (Brown, Newton, Clabo and Su'a-Filo), four who can play guard (Brooks, Jones, Su'a-Filo and Kupper) and three who can play center (Myers, Jones and Su'a-Filo).

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)

Please welcome Ricardo Mathews to the Ganguli 53-man roster. I don't know what took me so long. It finally became apparent to me that I was hanging on to one too many defensive backs.

LINEBACKERS (9)

Mercilus has had two strong games in a row. He said he has been thinking less lately, and it shows. I've added Ankrah, the undrafted rookie outside linebacker out of Nebraska to this list. Ankrah started Thursday night with both Reed and Clowney not playing. Ankrah had a sack and two tackles for loss against the 49ers.

CORNERBACKS (6)

No changes to this position group again. It's been a pleasure to watch Bouye's development. He faced a lot of talented receivers this preseason and held his own. I talked to him after Thursday night's game and asked what he's learned. He said he enjoys parsing his mistakes to figure out how to fix them. Bouye specifically noted going back and watching a touchdown he gave up against the Broncos last weekend.

SAFETIES (4)

Keo was chipper after Thursday night's game, and for good reason. He had a strong game on special teams and defense, on a day when he was fighting for his job. In my mind, this fourth safety spot came down to Keo or Eddie Pleasant. Pleasant had some strong moments during the four exhibition games so there's absolutely a chance he either beats out Keo or both make the team. For now, though, we'll reward Keo's strong performance against the 49ers.

SPECIALISTS (3)

Randy Bullock kicked a 52-yard field goal Thursday night. Lechler chilled on the sideline. They, uh, know what he can do.

Denver Broncos' projected roster

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Examining the Denver Broncos' roster:

Quarterbacks (2)
The Broncos carried three here last season and thought enough of Zac Dysert to keep him despite a long list of injuries on defense that eventually saw five starters on injured reserve. Dysert played well in the preseason, but it continues to look like two is going to be the number here with Dysert set to get a spot on the practice squad.

Running backs (4)

The Broncos kept five at this spot as recently as 2012, but with tight end Virgil Green's ability to play in a fullback role, four is the most logical total. Thompson continues to show he's a potential keeper and even lined up at fullback in the preseason finale. Kapri Bibbs closed strong with two touchdowns against the Cowboys, but he's more likely to be a practice squad guy.

Receivers (5)

Undrafted rookie Isaiah Burse tried to show he could make some impact on offense in the preseason finale with 66 yards receiving, but if the Broncos keep him, and there is a chance he did just enough to force that decision, it would be as returner. Welker, who suffered his third concussion since Nov. 17 against the Texans, did run some routes, catching passes, in pre-game warm-ups Saturday night.

Tight ends (3)

The Broncos kept four last season -- they kept three in 2011 and three in 2012 -- but keeping three, with perhaps another on the practice squad continues to be the most likely scenario as nothing that happened in the preseason changed that.

Offensive line (10)

The Broncos have kept nine players at this position for the opening-week roster in all three previous seasons of the John Fox/John Elway regime so this is where a difficult decision awaits if they don't elect to keep 10. Their rotations in the preseason suggest, however, 10 just might be the number this time around and this is likely where the third quarterback spot goes. Garland has done enough to earn a spot, and Cornick continues to work as Clady's backup at left tackle.

Defensive line (8)

The Broncos kept eight on the initial roster here last season and it's shaping up to be that way again. If that's how it plays out after the team's meetings on Friday, Kevin Vickerson could be the off man out. Unrein played some defensive end in some run-down situations in the last two preseason games and showed plenty of up-field quickness overall.

Linebackers (7)

Trevathan won't be back in the lineup until after the Week 4 bye at best so Marshall is going to play for him for at least the first three games of the regular season, and he showed in the preseason win over the 49ers he's up to the challenge. Miller is scheduled to be in the lineup Sept. 7 and Johnson closed strong to make his case in the preseason finale.

Cornerbacks (6)

Last season, the Broncos kept seven cornerbacks on the opening-night roster, including the injured Champ Bailey, but it's now looking like six here with Bolden lining up at corner much of the time. Bolden is also decidedly in the mix as the team's kickoff returner. Chris Harris Jr. is still on track to play in the regular-season opener.

Safeties (5)

Watch the rotations in practice as well as the preseason games, and Ihenacho figures into the equation here as the fifth safety, which would put the Broncos at 11 defensive backs -- what they kept last season -- but that would likely cause them to keep one fewer defensive lineman. In this scenario it means Ihenacho's special teams work is enough to get him the spot, a spot that came from the defensive line.

Specialists (3)

McManus missed two 50-plus yards attempts in the preseason finale, but had been with the team just for a day. He showed a powerful leg and is the most likely replacement for Matt Prater, who is suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
Examining the Cincinnati Bengals' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)
The Bengals were content with having just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster last season, and might do the same this season. Rookie AJ McCarron would be the odd man out. He didn't practice in training camp after being placed on the active non-football injury list, and it doesn't seem like he's going to practice anytime soon. After Matt Scott was cut earlier this week that leaves fellow backup Tyler Wilson to potentially contend for a practice squad spot. He isn't likely to make the 53-man roster.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

This grouping includes Hewitt at H-back, meaning the Bengals are more likely to take four halfbacks. Burkhead, Peerman and Hewitt are not locks to make the team, but there are compelling reasons for each being part of the 53-man roster. BenJarvus Green-Ellis and James Wilder Jr. also have chances to make the final roster, but in Green-Ellis' case that's really hard to see. He hasn't played in two weeks and has barely practiced in that time. Wilder had a strong 11-carry, 49-yard rushing performance that mostly covered the fourth quarter. Like Green-Ellis, Burkhead also hasn't practiced or played in two weeks after suffering a Week 2 knee injury. The last halfback spot could be one of the toughest decisions the Bengals have to make this year. As for Hewitt, I included him over Orson Charles because he has seemed to impress more throughout camp, and seems more versatile. Nikita Whitlock also is competing for a fullback job.

RECEIVERS (6)

The top three on this list are locks to make the team. If this group holds, that means former practice squad player Cobi Hamilton and undrafted rookie Colin Lockett won't make the team. Tate, who was left off earlier roster projections, had been impressive catching passes in training-camp practices, and has been listed as the starting kick and punt returner on the team's depth charts. It's tough to say if he will stick, though, now that others, like Adam Jones and Sanzenbacher, have gotten in-game work at both return positions. Sanzenbacher returned a punt for a touchdown Thursday against the Colts. Of the possible cuts listed here, Hamilton's size (6-foot-2) and leaping ability make him a possible pick to make the team, but he's been inconsistent. Wright's special-teams background and his consistently strong showing in training camp make him a very real possibility to make the team, too, although an apparent head injury ran him from Sunday's game, and he had three big special teams penalties in the three games he played. He didn't play Thursday.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Gresham is entering a contract year, and expectations have never been higher for him.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10)

It's common for teams to have nine or 10 linemen, and if the Bengals do injury-list McCarron, it seems likely Cincinnati would keep 10 linemen this season, instead of the nine I previously had been predicting. This group seems to provide the versatility coaches are seeking. Of the undrafted free-agent linemen the Bengals signed this year, Hopkins -- a versatile guard who was used in a variety of ways this spring -- has the best shot to make the team. A serious shin injury on Sunday, though, could affect him. Depending on the injury's severity, he could find himself placed on injured reserve to open up another spot that could go to a sixth back like Wilder. Coaches had been very high on Hopkins' play before the injury. For now, we'll bank on the injury being more minor than it appeared. He'll stick if so.

DEFENSIVE LINE (9)

The only player on this list who wasn't on last year's 53-man roster is Will Clarke. The rookie was drafted in the third round in May. He effectively takes the roster spot of Michael Johnson, who signed with Tampa Bay in the offseason. This might be the most settled group on the team.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Like the receivers, the top spots at linebacker are squared away. In this case, it's a lock that Burfict, Lamur, Rey and Maualuga will make the team. The two remaining linebackers are part of one of the better position battles on the team. DiManche has the best chance of the remaining linebackers to make the team. Flowers could be in a scenario similar to McCarron, Wilder, Lockett and Hopkins in that he has tools the Bengals don't want to risk losing by placing him on the practice squad where he could be poached away. But with Lamur ahead of him, Flowers could be a good "redshirt" candidate. There is no need to rush him into his cover linebacker duties unless he really is ready to contribute. J.K. Schaffer earlier this week was one of two players placed on injured reserve after missing much of the preseason with two concussions.

CORNERBACKS (5)

After a strong preseason from this group, these are the Bengals' five cornerbacks this season. Chris Lewis-Harris has a shot to stick as a practice squad player after a solid preseason, too. He won't make the 53-man roster to start the season because he was suspended under the league's substance abuse policy in July. He'll miss the first two games.

SAFETIES (4)

This might be one of the tougher cuts Bengals coaches have to make if they end up keeping just four safeties. Shawn Williams has performed quite well so far this preseason in both training camp practices and games, but Manning has a measure of versatility as a special-teamer, a fluidity with which he plays defense and a locker room presence as a veteran that trumps Williams' promise and Mays' play.

SPECIALISTS (3)

These guys aren't going anywhere. The punter, kicker and long-snapper will make the team.
Examining the Kansas City Chiefs' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

At this point, it would be a surprise only if Smith isn’t the starter, Daniel isn’t the No. 2 quarterback, and the Chiefs don’t keep Bray on their active roster. So the question is what they do with Aaron Murray. The Chiefs saw this scenario developing and didn’t draft him to set him free this quickly.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

With an unsettled offensive line and injuries at wide receiver, the Chiefs will need not only big production from Charles but significant help on offense from both Thomas and Davis.

WIDE RECEIVER (6)
Dwayne Bowe is suspended for the season's first game so I've left him off this list. Hemingway has been out for most of the preseason with injuries, and Williams and Jenkins left the Green Bay game early, Williams with an injured shoulder and Jenkins with a concussion. So the Chiefs may have to keep Mark Harrison or Fred Williams or acquire a receiver.

TIGHT END (3)

Harris had an awful game against the Packers. He still probably makes the roster.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9)

I've left Donald Stephenson off this list because of his suspension. The decision on McGlynn or Ricky Henry as a backup guard could go either way.

DEFENSIVE LINE (6)

I don't see how the Chiefs can keep Mike Catapano after he missed all of the preseason and most of training camp.

LINEBACKER (9)
Joe Mays will likely go on an injured list but perhaps return later in the year.

CORNERBACK (5)

As Gaines showed against the Packers, he is a developmental player. The Chiefs might have kept DeMarcus Van Dyke, but he suffered a high ankle sprain in Green Bay.

SAFETY (4)

Berry's injury could force the Chiefs to keep a veteran backup. Neither Bronson nor Sorensen has played in a regular-season NFL game.

SPECIALISTS (3)

It wouldn't be a surprise if the Chiefs went with either Cairo Santos or Ryan Succop as their kicker.
Examining the Oakland Raiders' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)

We might not know the exact order of this group, but these are your three quarterbacks.

RUNNING BACKS (3)

The Raiders are strong here. Murray has potential to play this year.

FULLBACKS (2)

Reece and his understudy complete a solid backfield.

RECEIVERS (6)

Butler has done enough to make the team. This group is deeper than recent Raiders receiver groups. The team had to love to see what they saw from Moore with Carr on Thursday night.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

This is a work in progress. Ausberry's injury could be an issue. I think this is a position Oakland looks to upgrade on the waiver wire.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

Not a perfect group, but the depth has improved here.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)

This group looks deeper this year.

LINEBACKERS (6)

The are some injury issues here, so perhaps this spot is fluid.

CORNERBACKS (6)

Really like this group. It will be better when D.J. Hayden gets healthy. Neiko Thorpe had a bad night Thursday, which could hurt his chances of making the team.

SAFETIES (4)
Usama Young and Ross could be battling to the end.

SPECIALISTS (3)

Nothing wrong with this trio.

St. Louis Rams' projected roster

August, 29, 2014
Aug 29
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Examining the St. Louis Rams' roster:

(Note: WR Stedman Bailey is expected to make the team but is suspended for the first four games of the season and will not count on the initial 53-man roster.)

QUARTERBACKS (3)
The devastating loss of quarterback Sam Bradford leaves the Rams with just the three players mentioned above on the roster. Davis is the No. 2 for now but the Rams will keep their eyes open for a veteran to add experience. These three could make the initial cut but the most likely scenario is they keep Hill and Davis and Gilbert goes to the practice squad after they locate a veteran.

RUNNING BACKS (4)
Chase Reynolds is difficult to leave off because of his value on special teams, but Watts has just offered too much upside for the offense and willingness on special teams to be left off. It wouldn't surprise if the Rams kept both but it's hard to do this without at least including Watts.

RECEIVERS (5)

With Bailey suspended the first four weeks, the Rams could take a longer look at another wideout for the first quarter of the season but there isn't one who has really emerged as worthy. Givens reminded many why he deserves to stick against the Browns but Pettis has been nearly invisible. Without Bailey, it stands to reason Pettis would stay but upon Bailey's return, that could change.

TIGHT ENDS (4)

The first three are probably pretty safe, but the Rams could have an intriguing competition for a potential fourth tight end if they opt to keep four. Cunningham versus Alex Bayer continues to be one of the more interesting battles on the roster. Cunningham is the better blocker, while Bayer has shown more as a pass-catcher. It's really difficult to determine which flavor the Rams prefer but I'm going back to Cunningham because of his value as a blocker on special teams.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

The Rams have serious questions about their depth on the offensive line. Barrett Jones' situation remains in flux and few of the backups have stood out. It's hard to project the depth beyond Joseph and Barnes but the guess here is the Rams do something to stash Jones and save the roster spot then opt for Person and Bond in a tight race over Brandon Washington and Sean Hooey.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (9)

This is the toughest decision on the roster right now. Westbrooks and Michael Sam have both done enough in camp and the preseason to stake a claim to a spot. At this point, it would be a surprise if Westbrooks didn't make it. Jeff Fisher has hinted at a different look in terms of roster composition this year and it's not out of the realm of possibility they could keep both. It's hard to project where they could chop elsewhere to create space, though. The other X factor here is the health of Hayes and Sims. Neither played against Miami and Hayes has yet to appear in a preseason game. Perhaps that could open the door for both Sam and Westbrooks to stay.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Barring injury, it's hard to imagine a scenario in which the first five don't make it. But the sixth spot is more of a question mark. That spot is anybody's guess. Steward stays there for now but Lawrence Wilson and Aaron Hill could surprise. And the Rams will definitely scour the waiver wire for others.

CORNERBACKS (6)

With Johnson out four to six weeks, this looks like the spot that could keep Sam from making the roster. The Rams will have to carry Johnson on the roster but will probably need to keep another body for depth in the meantime. It's not easy to choose one from the group of Roberson, Greg Reid and Darren Woodard. Roberson has flashed the most in coverage, Reid is the best tackler and Woodard is sort of the happy medium between the two. We'll go with Roberson because he's gotten the most opportunities, an indication the coaching staff likes his potential.

SAFETIES (4)

Put simply, the Rams don't have anyone else who has showed enough to earn a spot and Joyner could play safety in a pinch. Alexander and Davis are core special-teams players.

SPECIALISTS (3)

These three are set in stone.

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