Posted: 10:53 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013
By Josh Kirkendall
Having a roster with the talent that Cincinnati has, there hasn't been a need to jam the locker room with new faces. The Bengals aren't one of the high-profile teams that continue signing well-known names. Instead, they've chosen to build a team deep with role players that are backing up the superstars and starters that were acquired from the NFL draft.
With the release of Robert Sands, Jamaal Anderson, and Travelle Wharton over the past month in a half, Cincinnati allowed for vacancies, allowing for space to sign training camp bodies in case their roster was dealt with adversity.
That's what happened this week.
With A.J. Green on the shelf nursing a bruised knee, the team signed Jheranie Boyd. Hours later Cincinnati announced that they've also acquired offensive tackle Jason Weaver while Andrew Whitworth continues rehabilitating a surgically repaired knee. Vaughn Meatoga was signed to replace Larry Black, who suffered a season-ending injury this week, mostly to help with the team's offseason roster at the position.
Make no mistake. Byrd, Weaver, and Meatoga are not a threat to make the 53-man roster. But when the team enters the fourth quarter of a preseason game, trying to remove backup players locked into the 53-man roster, they need bodies to play those roles. For Byrd, Weaver, and Meatoga, the opportunity is huge, putting their work on film for future employment elsewhere (or maybe even with the team's practice squad).
Byrd only generated 44 receptions during his four-year career at North Carolina. According to the CBS Sports' predraft analysis, Byrd ranked as the No. 422nd prospect and 48th best receiver heading into the NFL draft. He wasn't drafted and signed a college free agent deal with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers almost a week following the 2013 NFL draft. With so much attention being given to Giovani Bernard during the predraft process, the Bengals probably saw something with Byrd in the background.
Similarly Weaver, a former tackle with Southern Mississippi, ranked No. 293 according to the CBS Sports prospect ranking. Meatoga was a contributor and starter for Hawaii, posting 6.5 career sacks and 11.5 tackles-for-loss during his career. He was named to the second-team All-WAC team during his season season in 2012. This is Meatoga's second stint with the Bengals, so the team likes something in Meatoga.
Cincinnati finally has a full compliment of 90 players on their training camp roster. The league's deadline to reduce their roster to the 75 maximum is August 27. Four days later (Aug. 31), and two days following the final preseason game in 2013, teams are required to reduce their roster to the 53-man maximum.