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Baltimore Ravens without starting tight end Owen Daniels

The Cincinnati Bengals defense has been awful during the team's current winless streak. One issue that will benefit them is the absence of Baltimore's starting tight end.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Maybe things won't be so bad for Cincinnati's maligned defense.

Vontaze Burfict and Emmanuel Lamur are expected to play... well, at least start, because you know that Burfict is going to concuss himself and leave the game... and the team is believably disgusted after an epic 27-0 loss (which reminded everyone of the state of affairs prior to Marvin Lewis' arrival) that MUST have appealed to their personal pride. It's like asking... "is THIS the legacy you're leaving right now?".

Another item benefitting Cincinnati's defense this weekend is that Baltimore's second-leading receiver, Owen Daniels, the Ravens starting tight end, will not play this weekend. Daniels, who has 27 receptions and 275 yards passing this season, suffered a knee injury last week against the Atlanta Falcons.

After being absent on Wednesday and Thursday, beat writers questioned Owens' availability this weekend... Daniels takes a veteran rest day at times, but two missed sessions is new. Offensive coordinator Gary Kubiak said that Daniels is "fine" and the team said that his injury was "relatively" minor.

Then Daniels had his knee scoped on Friday, forcing him to miss Sunday's game... and confirming our belief that coaches are paranoid liars (and that's not just a trait in Baltimore).

"As the week went on, his knee was not really progressing the way we wanted it to, so we went ahead and did a clean-up procedure," Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said. Daniels could be back next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers. "We'll see how that goes. That would be an optimistic approach, but it could happen. That’s where we're at on that."

Daniels was forced to step up after Baltimore's original starting tight end, Dennis Pitta, suffered a season-ending hip dislocation against the Cleveland Browns in late September. Pitta caught ten passes against the Bengals in the regular season opener for 83 yards.

Stepping in (but not necessarily stepping up) for Daniels will be Crockett Gillmore, who will become the third Ravens rookie to start a game on offense. Gillmore, selected in the third round of the 2014 NFL draft, is more of a blocker and somewhat raw as a pass catcher.

"I'm going to do what I can in the pass game, but I know why I'm here, and I'm going to continue to block," Gillmore said via ESPN.

"He gets better every day as a receiver," coach John Harbaugh said. "He’s not the fastest guy in the world -- not to be confused with a speed merchant -- but he has good hands. He has very good body control. The big tight ends are really valuable in this league because they have catch radius and they can get away from a defender. It’s hard to cover them one-on-one. That’d be a big asset for us if he could keep growing that way."

Per Jamison Hensley, fullback Kyle Juszczyk could be a factor.

Cincinnati has had trouble covering tight ends this season (well, forever really but our focus is '14). From Rob Gronkowski and Tim Wright (combined for 11 receptions, 185 yards receiving and two touchdowns), to Greg Olsen, Coby Fleener and even Dwayne Allen, who burnt 260-pounds worth of rubber against Cincinnati on a 32-yard touchdown reception, the Bengals are struggling. Cincinnati has allowed 50 yards or more receiving to seven tight ends this season and four touchdowns in the last three games.

A breakdown on how opposing tight ends are doing against Cincinnati's defense:

5 Patriots Rob Gronkowski 6 100 1
5 Patriots Tim Wright 5 85 1
1 Ravens Dennis Pitta 10 83 0
7 Colts Coby Fleener 4 64 0
6 Panthers Greg Olsen 6 62 1
3 Titans Delanie Walker 4 54 0
7 Colts Dwayne Allen 3 52 1
1 Ravens Owen Daniels 4 34 0
3 Titans Craig Stevens 2 26 0
7 Colts Jack Doyle 1 20 0
6 Panthers Brandon Williams 1 16 0
2 Falcons Levine Toilolo 2 13 0
3 Titans Taylor Thompson 0 0 0
5 Patriots Michael Hoomanawanui 0 0 0
6 Panthers Ed Dickson 0 0 0