There are two moments when my anxiety reaches its peak; the beginning of games, and daily practice reports. With my advancing hippocampus activating memories from the seasons prior to the Marvin Lewis era, the reasons for games are obvious. Practices cause their own level of anxiety, but unnaturally different. With the limited media coverage (who only get to watch the first 30 minutes of practice), and secretive nature of regular season practices, major injuries during practice are the douchebag ninjas of the injury world.
On Wednesday, it was learned that Michael Johnson suffered a concussion against the Browns -- thus commences the unknown period for rehabilitation. But the shortness of breath generally occurs on Thursday.
Linebacker Thomas Howard and wide receiver Mohamed Sanu suffered season-ending injuries on Sept. 13 and Nov. 29 respectively -- both Thursday practices. Neither were listed on the team's injury report after Wednesday's session, arriving as limited participants Thursday. That usually means that the player conducted individual drills early, but forced to sit after sustaining an injury. Sometimes the injuries are small. But in their cases, major.
On Thursday, a similar situation emerged. Linebacker James Harrison (knee) and Brandon Ghee (thigh) were absent from Wednesday's injury report, listed as limited on Thursday. Unlike Howard and Sanu last year, there are no significant reports regarding Harrison and Ghee following Thursday's session, so there's no reason to somersault into traffic.
But the reality is that Cincinnati's injury situation is a causing a mess.
Michael Johnson could miss his first game after playing 71 straight over five seasons, with a concussion. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict was downgraded from limited to did not participate on Thursday with a neck. Leon Hall's hamstring will likely bench the starting cornerback this weekend. The damage? Three defensive starters could be out, with Reggie Nelson slowly coming along after dealing with a hamstring last week.
Lewis' forecast for Hall, Nelson and Dre Kirkpatrick, who was limited on Thursday, is "partly sunny" and Mike Zimmer is confident that Johnson and Burfict will play.
However, optimism may quickly become sour if Cincinnati's defense continues sitting throughout Friday's practice.