Jerome Simpson, along with RB Cedric Benson are the only two skill position players who finished 2010 as starters and are still listed as such on the team's first depth chart of 2011. Marvin Lewis was quick to caution reporters not to read too much into the first chart, saying he only released one because the NFL mandates it. Because of no offseason program, Lewis and his staff have had only seven days in which to evaluate this year's talent, so nothing is written in stone. Even so, it gives us some indication as to how camp has been going so far and what we'll probably see Friday night at Detroit.
This is Andy Dalton's team now. The rookie unsurprisingly was placed at the top of the quarterback list, followed by Bruce Gradkowski and Jordan Palmer at the third spot. It will be interesting to watch how the team plays its quarterbacks on Friday. Will the rookie Dalton get the customary two series accorded to veterans who have already won the starting job, or will Lewis and Jay Gruden want him to get more reps. While Gradkowski appears cemented in the backup role, Palmer's competition with Dan LeFevoer will be for who stays employed by the team.
On the offensive line, Andre Smith moved up to the number one spot at right tackle. Perhaps more telling is that neither Max Jean-Gilles nor Clint Boling have shown enough thus far in camp to move underperforming Nate Livings out of the number one spot at guard.
As expected, Simpson will be flanked by rookie AJ Green at wide receiver. Behind them, however, Andre Caldwell is listed as a number two while Jordan Shipley has slipped to a third string slot. Both Caldwell and Shipley are key reserves on the return team, however.
On the defensive side, newcomers Manny Lawson and Thomas Howard will bracket Rey Maualuga at linebacker. Interestingly enough, newly re-signed Brandon Johnson is penciled in behind both Lawson and Howard.
In the secondary, the loss of Donte Whitner is noticeable as rookie Robert Sands sits at third string along with Gibril Wilson who has yet to practice because of injury. Sands has obviously not made much of an impression at a spot perceived to be wide open. Nate Clements and Leon Hall are the starting corners.
One factor that could influence some major changes on the defensive side is the return from injury of several players who should be competing for starting spots. Pat Sims (DT), Brandon Ghee (CB), Adam Jones, (CB), and Keith Rivers (LB) have all been absent thus far with injuries.
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