Five questionable as the Bengals defense limps into Miami

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals defense is heading to Miami with several questions related to injuries.

There's no question that the Bengals are banged up. In the past two days, they've placed defensive backs Leon Hall and Taylor Mays on Injured Reserve without any acquisitions to replace them.

Rey Maualuga suffered an MCL sprain and Michael Boley, listed as questionable, is dealing with an irritating hamstring -- he played a full second half after not playing or practicing much before being signed. Wallace Gilberry is dealing with a groin that forced him to sit on Tuesday. Offensively two starters, wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth could be out this Thursday against the Miami Dolphins.

Wait, can you clear that up a little? What's going on at linebacker?

Right.

For those of you that ignore injury and practice updates throughout the week, Bengals linebacker Rey Maualuga is currently on crutches after suffering an MCL sprain against the New York Jets. There are multiple timelines for his eventual recovery; NFL Insiders are reporting 3-4 weeks but there's also a belief that he could return next week against the Baltimore Ravens. Regardless, before the team departed for Miami, they announced that Maualuga was out.

Michael Boley, who replaced Maualuga in the second half against the Jets, showed up on the injury report with a hamstring on Monday. Currently questionable after missing an entire week's worth of practice, Boley could join Maualuga on the sidelines in Miami.

Now we're down to Vincent Rey possibly being the team's starting middle linebacker. And with Taylor Mays going on Injured Reserve, Rey may work as a three-down linebacker.

That's the variable, the fluidity of such concern. Who replaces him? Due to the team's lack of options, they may be forced into different personnel packages. If they're expecting pass, they'll play with six defensive backs. Expecting a run, play the base 4-3 with Vincent Rey in the middle. Regardless, the short turnaround from the Jets to Miami restricted Cincinnati's ability to sign another player or get one of their own comfortable enough to play in that Taylor Mays hybrid role.

Compounding the problem is that defensive end Wallace Gilberry sat on Tuesday with a groin. If Gilberry, currently questionable, is unable to go, the thinking is that James Harrison will take some snaps on the defensive line while Jayson DiManche stands in for Harrison -- or play DiManche on the line and keep Harrison at linebacker.

Bengals offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, and running back Rex Burkehad join Gilberry and Boley as questionable.

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