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Bengals welcome back Carter

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INCINNATI — Linebacker Chris Carter joked after another impressive showing Thursday that he was going to turn off his phone in case of bad news Saturday from the Cincinnati Bengals.

Fortunately for him, the news was nothing but good.

Carter survived the final round of cuts as the Bengals took their roster of 75 to 53 on Saturday. He excelled throughout the preseason in a hybrid linebacker/defensive end role and caught the coaching staff’s attention with his nose for the playbook and pass-rush ability. He led the Bengals with 3.5 sacks through four preseason games, and he had one sack, three tackles and a forced fumble in the preseason finale win at Indianapolis.

“They’re allowing me to put my hand in the dirt,” the 6-foot-1, 240-pound Carter said last week. “That’s something I was very successful with in college (at Fresno State). A lot of pro teams weren’t necessarily looking to allow me to do that. They thought I was too undersized. That’s not the case here. I’ve shown that I can compete like that, and they’re allowing me to go out there and compete in that position as well as standing up, playing linebacker.”

A fifth-year player who previously was cut by the Steelers and Colts, Carter signed with the Bengals as a free agent in December and appeared in three games after injuries continued to decimate the linebacker corps.

Later, injuries on the defensive line led defensive coordinator Paul Guenther to experiment with Carter’s experience at end during OTAs in the spring.

His versatility might have made a difference when it came to decision-making time Saturday. The Bengals placed WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict – who continues to recover from a 2014 knee injury – on the physically unable to perform list (PUP) on Saturday, meaning he won’t be available for the first six weeks and won’t be eligible to practice until Oct. 19.

Injuries sustained Thursday by linebackers Marquis Flowers and Jayson DiManche also helped make room for Carter, as the Bengals kept just six backers, while holding 10 spots each for the defensive line and secondary.

–Despite the extra roster spots on the defensive line, tackle Devon Still and undrafted rookie tackle DeShawn Williams became casualties of cuts in the area’s most competitive unit battle during the preseason.

Still said last week he had an “uphill battle” because of missing offseason workouts to be with his daughter, Leah, who is in remission from Stage 4 pediatric cancer but still recovering from treatments. He came into camp 30 pounds lighter and felt it was the best preseason of his career.

“I love spending time with my daughter so I appreciated being there with my daughter,” Still said. “As far as not getting those reps that other guys had, I guess it put me back just in the coaches eye because they weren’t able to see me progress like they were able to watch other players do. But, I just took the opportunity to show what I could do in practice when I got back.”

The Bengals’ 2012 second-round draft pick had been cut last year but re-signed to the practice squad, but that is no longer an option.

“(I) have nothing but love for the Bengals organization and the city of Cincinnati,” Still said on Twitter on Saturday. “Both helped me through one of the darkest times of my life, and I am forever grateful. It’s time to move forward and see what’s next.”

Rookie Derron Smith (sixth round) beat out veteran Shiloh Keo for the fourth and final safety spot, as all nine draft picks made the roster. Keo was released to free agency.

Offensively, veterans Brandon Tate and Greg Little, as well as seventh-round draft pick Mario Alford, were kept to back up A.J. Green, Mo Sanu and Marvin Jones at wide receiver. The Bengals went light on the offensive line with Cedric Ogbuehi eligible to come off the NFI list on Oct. 19. Guard Trey Hopkins, a second-year player out of Oregon, had been on the bubble but was waived.


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