While there are still only three players currently on Injured Reserve — a Christmas miracle for a franchise annually snakebitten with season-ending injuries to key players — there are still several Bengals dealing with nagging injuries that have compromised their availability.
The most notable injury is to cornerback Adam Jones, who said earlier Wednesday he would not play Sunday vs Pittsburgh. The final injury report on Friday will supply the final verdict on his availability for Sunday, but Jones is dealing with a foot injury suffered in Week 10 that caused him to miss Week 11. Jones played in the past two games but missed practice last Wednesday and Thursday before getting in a limited session on Friday and a questionable status for Sunday.
The good news is tight end Tyler Eifert, who is still leading the NFL with 12 touchdowns, was able to practice today. He missed Week 13 with a stinger that caused him to miss all three practices last week. The Bengals were perfectly fine without Eifert during their 37-3 rout of Cleveland, but they'll need him this week against a Steelers team that's looking for another late-season surge into the postseason. According to Bob Holtzman, Eifert is on-track to play on Sunday.
Starting slot corner Leon Hall missed Wednesday's session, though he usually gets Wednesdays off or gets a limited session in as a veteran's rest day. He's dealing with a back injury that's plagued him throughout the year and led to him sitting out Week 6 in a win at Buffalo and sitting out in this past week's win over the Browns. Hall didn't practice last Wednesday or Thursday before getting in a limited session on Friday and was listed as questionable to play Sunday. It is worth noting he was stretching with the team today before sitting out of the open portion of practice, so he may be set to practice on Thursday and the rest of the week's practices will be more indicative as to whether he'll play on Sunday.
Starting safety George Iloka also sat out Wednesday. He practiced limitedly last Wednesday, but didn't participate on Thursday or Friday while dealing with a groin injury. He was listed as questionable Sunday before not playing. If he doesn't play this week, look for Shawn Williams to get another start in Iloka's place.
Backup corner Josh Shaw was able to practice Wednesday after leaving Sunday's game with a back injury. He may end up starting again this week if Jones and/or Hall are out. Shaw played in the slot on Sunday in Hall's absence, but could move out to the boundary this week if Jones doesn't play.
Linebacker Emmanuel Lamur missed last Wednesday with an ankle injury that also limited him in Thursday's session before he practiced fully on Friday and played Sunday. He was able to practice today and should be good to go Sunday. He ended up playing slot corner and safety at times during Sunday's win over the Browns, which he may do again vs the Steelers with so many defensive backs injured.
Andrew Whitworth sat out on Wednesday for his typical veteran's rest day.
Be sure to check back later for the full practice and participation report for both the Steelers and Bengals.