Not only was Jones not practicing, but he was seen in a walking boot, one day after he shed his cast on his injured right foot. Since he hasn't practiced this week, Jones will probably be listed as doubtful or even out on the final injury report, released later today.
The starting corner is dealing with a foot injury that's been lingering since he initially suffered it during the Bengals' Week 10 loss to the Houston Texans. He then missed the Week 11 loss to the Arizona Cardinals before returning for the Week 12 win over the St. Louis Rams. Jones also played in last Sunday's win over the Cleveland Browns, and at no point during either game did he appear to have re-aggravated the injury. Jones played in 76-percent of the snaps in Cleveland before giving way to other defensive backs at the end of the blowout.
With Jones likely out Sunday, that means the Bengals will be without two of their top four corners against one of the best passing offenses in the NFL. Since the Week 8 16-10 win in Pittsburgh, the Bengals have lost Darqueze Dennard to a season-ending shoulder injury and are unlikely to have Jones on Sunday. Dennard and Jones along with the rest of the Bengals defense helped slow down Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to the tune of 262 yards, one score and three interceptions in Week 8.
Replacing Jones won't be an easy mystery to solve. The corner rotation has been shifting a lot in the past month with so many injuries. Rookie corner Josh Shaw played mostly in the slot last week with Hall down due to a back injury. Hall was able to practice Friday after participating Thursday as well, so it looks like at least he'll return this week.
If Hall does play, you could keep him in the slot and move Shaw to the boundary, or play Shaw in the slot and play Hall out wide. There's also the possibility Kirkpatrick moves into the slot while Hall and Shaw both play out wide. Kirkpatrick has gotten work in the slot prior to this season, but has played mostly on the boundary this year.
Cincinnati may also be without another starting defensive back this week with George Iloka dealing with a groin injury. Iloka was able to practice Friday after being unable to on Wednesday or Thursday, which alone makes his status questionable for Sunday after missing last week's win over the Browns.
Friday is more of a light practice, and even with Iloka taking part in it, his best-case scenario is a questionable designation for Sunday. If he doesn't play, Shawn Williams will continue to start as he did last week.
Be sure to check back later for the final practice and injury report for both the Steelers and Bengals.