Cincinnati Bengals 2021 training camp roster preview: Defensive line

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The Cincinnati Bengals again poured droves of resources into the defensive line this offseason in an effort to dramatically improve.

It’s a tall task that will come down to the likes of new arrivals Trey Hendrickson and rookie Joseph Ossai. The team also has to hope for better injury luck from the likes of D.J. Reader.

Here’s a breakdown of the unit before training camp starts.

Depth chart

Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Sam Hubbard (94) celebrates a sack of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) (not pictured) in the second quarter of an Week 5 NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.
Arizona Cardinals At Cincinnati Bengals Oct 6

Pos

Name

Edge

Sam Hubbard

Edge

Trey Hendrickson

Edge

Cam Sample

Edge

Joseph Ossai

Edge

Khalid Kareem

Edge

Renell Wren

Edge

Wyatt Hubert

Edge

Darius Hodge

Edge

Amani Bledsoe

Edge

Freedom Akinmoladun

IDL

D.J. Reader

IDL

Larry Ogunjobi

IDL

Tyler Shelvin

IDL

Mike Daniels

IDL

Josh Tupou

IDL

Kahlil McKenzie

The big storyline

Cincinnati Bengals' D.J. Reader after an NFL football camp practice in Cincinnati, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

Pressure: The Bengals haven't had much of it in recent years. Gone are the days the entire defense was upholstered by a dominant front seven that didn't need much in the way of help from additional blitzers. There is no Carlos Dunlap or Geno Atkins, nor is the scheme the same old thing. The Bengals say new signee Trey Hendrickson will get more playing time than he's ever had while working all over the line, including rushing from the inside. Sam Hubbard will see similar usage. The team also tried to bolster the rush and versatility of the unit with draft picks Joseph Ossai and Cam Sample. If the worst-case scenario unfolds and this area doesn't dramatically improve, it's next up on the draft early list.

Prediction

Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Joseph Ossai (58) runs a drill during an NFL football rookie minicamp in Cincinnati, Friday, May 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Aaron Doster)

By most projections, the Bengals should dramatically improve in this area. Hendrickson isn't Carl Lawson, but he's another piece the team thinks better fits the defense Anarumo wants to run. If nothing else, we should see some serious flashes from a rookie like Ossai. While the team now runs a multiple front, we can expect them to keep 10 or so names here like days of old. Then again, with Hendrickson and Hubbard, as well as others able to kick inside, maybe the versatility lets them keep just nine. Either way, it's all about the new names. Hendrickson, Hubbard, Ossai, Sample, Reader, Shelvin and Ogunjobi all feel like locks. Add in a veteran like Mike Daniels and there's really maybe one or two spots actually up for a battle this summer.

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