The team has listed cornerback Adam Jones and defensive end Michael Johnson as doubtful to play against Arizona in addition to backup defensive tackle Pat Sims. There's no question Johnson and Jones would be the bigger losses as those two have played big roles in helping the Bengals defense once again become one of the NFL's better units.
Jones especially is a big loss for the Bengals as they get set to face a pass-happy Cardinals offense. Jones initially suffered what was called a shoulder injury during Monday's loss to the Houston Texans. After not practicing Wednesday, it was later revealed Jones was dealing with a foot injury that also kept him out Thursday. One report said he recovered from the shoulder injury and the foot injury was unrelated. As is normally the case, Friday was a light session and more of a walk through for the players, so Jones wouldn't have done much even if he was healthy enough to during the session.
With a doubtful listing, that means there's about a 75-percent chance Jones misses Sunday's game. That's good news for Arizona, who ranks fourth in passing offense, first in yards per pass attempt (8.8) and is tied for the second most touchdown throws (23). Carson Palmer has the Cardinals' offense clicking, and he's thrown for an average of 358 yards and 2.5 touchdowns over his last four games.
Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd has been unable to practice at all this week after missing Friday's session. That means there's a good chance he doesn't play Sunday, leaving Arizona without a key pass-catcher vs a Bengals defense down a key defensive back. Though, Bruce Arians is saying it will be a gametime decision for Floyd and if he can run, he will play.
Arians: Redding is out. Floyd, Cooper didn't practice. Floyd is game time decision. So is Cooper. "If Floyd can run, we can use him."— Darren Urban (@Cardschatter) November 20, 2015
Assuming Jones doesn't play, second-year corner Darqueze Dennard will get the start alongside Dre Kirkpatrick on the boundary and Leon Hell in the slot. Dennard has quietly played well this season in limited snaps, including on Monday when he had to fill in for an injured Jones for several snaps. One of those came in the red zone on a pass Dennard defended beautifully while covering DeAndre Hopkins. He also played a lot of snaps in Week 6 in the slot when Leon Hall was out and grabbed his first NFL interception off of EJ Manuel.
This also means rookie corner Josh Shaw may see more snaps on defense after playing almost exclusively on special teams thus far. We may also see sixth-string corner Chris Lewis-Harris active for just the fourth time this season. He has not played since Week 6 at Buffalo and hasn't recorded an official statistic this season.
As for Johnson, it's unclear what happened to him after he practiced Wednesday, but missed Thursday with what was called a back injury. If he were to miss this week, veteran end Wallace Gilberry would likely start with Will Clarke and Margus Hunt getting more snaps as well. Johnson has 21 tackles and two sacks this year, whereas Gilberry has 13 tackles and two sacks. Clarke has four tackles and 0.5 sacks.
With Sims also likely out, that means Brandon Thompson, who is a slightly better at rushing the passer, will likely be active this week. Thompson and Sims have alternated being active this season playing as the third defensive tackle.
It's also possible with the combination of Sims and Johnson out that we see rookie defensive lineman Marcus Hardison active. Since being drafted in the fourth round out of Arizona State in this year's NFL draft, Hardison has yet to be a gameday active this season. He played in all four preseason games with eight tackles, a sack, a pass defensed and a forced fumble. He can play both end and tackle, so if he's ever going to be active this year, this may be the game for which it happens.