It would appear like a long shot for Eric Winston, who signed with the Bengals on Tuesday, to play this Sunday. He hasn't played since the preseason and save for his one-month employment in Seattle, hasn't had an NFL home since leaving Arizona in 2013. How is his conditioning? Strength? Even if he were physically up to task, has he absorbed enough of the playbook? We're asking him to play right tackle against the Pittsburgh Steelers after being a free agent less than three days ago.
Seriously... no way. Right?
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis told reporters on Thursday that Winston will "play as soon as we can get him ready to play." Maybe Sunday. Maybe next week when Cincinnati heads to Cleveland. Winston isn't here as one of Hue Jackson's candidates -- which is the tone I got from that quote. He's here to play out the remainder of the 2014 schedule and any postseason games that journey through Cincinnati.
Winston is replacing Marshall Newhouse, who replaced Andre Smith earlier this season. Newhouse has generated a Pro Football Focus overall grade of -12.6 over the last four games and a pass protection score of -9.4 with a quarterback sack allowed, three hits on the quarterback and 10 hurries.
Cincinnati placed Andre Smith on Injured Reserve on Nov. 25 after the veteran right tackle suffered a torn tricep against the Houston Texans. It was his first game back since an ankle injury against Jacksonville forced him to sit the following two weeks against Cleveland and in New Orleans.