Andre Smith was once again present with his helmet on as it appears he's close to being ready to return to action on Sunday. The starting right tackle missed the past two games with a concussion, but two straight practices is a good sign he'll be fully cleared to play this weekend. The Bengals will certainly need all hands on deck when they face a Cardinals' defense that ranks third overall and fourth against the run. Having Smith back should help pave the way for a Bengals ground game that's been struggling and not improving with him sidelined. He was limited though on Wednesday, so it will be interesting to see if he gets a full or limited session in on Thursday.
While Smith coming back would be a big gain, losing Adam Jones would be a bigger loss, and that may end up being the case after he sat out again Thursday. A foot injury kept the starting corner from appearing at practice Wednesday, but he was present on Thursday. If he can practice on Friday, that will be a good sign as to whether he'll play on Sunday night. The injury was originally reported as a shoulder injury, but was indicated to be a foot injury on yesterday's team injury report.
If Jones misses Sunday's matchup, it would be bad news for the Bengals as they get set to face a Cardinals offense that ranks fourth in passing offense, first in yards per pass attempt (8.8) and is tied for the second most touchdown passes (23). Jones would likely spend most of the game matched up with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd, who have combined to catch 30 passes for 433 yards and four touchdowns in their past two games. If Jones can't play, that means second-year man Darqueze Dennard will get the start alongside Dre Kirkpatrick on the boundary and Leon Hell in the slot.
Also missing Thursday was defensive end Michael Johnson, who was mysteriously not present after practicing on Wednesday. Johnson wasn't on the participation and injury report on Wednesday, so his absence may not be due to an injury. It's possible he came down with some sort of ailment and was given the day off, so check back later to see what the participation report says. If he were to miss this week, Wallace Gilberry would likely start with Will Clarke and Margus Hunt getting more snaps as well.
Backup defensive tackle Pat Sims was once again unable to practice after missing Wednesday's session with what was determined to be a knee injury. He's been splitting gameday activations as the third defensive tackle with Brandon Thompson, who is a slightly better at rushing the passer, something Cincinnati will need a lot of Sunday.
Linebacker Vontaze Burfict (knee) defensive end Carlos Dunlap (shoulder) safety Shawn Williams (ankle) all practiced on Thursday after being limited on Wednesday. It won't be known until later this afternoon if they were full or limited participants. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth was back Thursday after getting his normal veteran's rest day off on Wednesday.
Be sure to check back later for the full Thursday practice and participation report.