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Bengals safety George Iloka questionable vs Chargers; Shawn Williams may make first NFL start

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The Bengals will also be missing rookie Marcus Hardison on Sunday after he was ruled out by Marvin Lewis.

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Cincinnati Bengals will be healthy for the most part when they take on the San Diego Chargers this Sunday.

However, one starter listed as questionable on the final injury report is George Iloka. The starting free safety was forced from Cincinnati's Week 1 win at Oakland with an ankle injury that limited him to just 19 snaps. He later missed Wednesday's practice before returning Thursday for a limited session.

According to Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson, Iloka was able to practice Friday enough that he could play Sunday.

Starting safety George Iloka (ankle) and backup rookie cornerback Josh Shaw (groin) were limited and are questionable but it sounds like they could play and that would be Iloka's 34th straight start. Lewis said after practice he had 62 of 63 players available, counting the 10-man practice squad. Rookie backup defensive lineman Marcus Hardison (knee) was declared out for a second straight week after not practicing.

Even if Iloka is able to go, it looks as though the injury could limit him from player every defensive snap. If he doesn't start and/or play, that would lead to third-year safety Shawn Williams making his first NFL start.

Since being drafted in the 2013 NFL Draft out of Georgia, Williams had played a grand total of 39 defensive snaps in 32 games coming into 2015. He'd been mostly relegated to special teams, but the hope is he'll finally find a role in the defense that leads to him being on the field more often in his third year in the league.

When Iloka left the game in Week 1, Williams filled in and took nearly every snap at free safety the rest of the game, finishing with 47 snaps and a 0.2 Pro Football Focus Grade. Williams finished the 2015 preseason with 118 defensive snaps and a 0.7 Pro Football Focus Grade playing linebacker and both safety spots.

It's possible we would have seen Williams playing significant snaps even if Iloka hadn't been hurt, but if he doesn't play this week, we're guaranteed to see a lot of Williams when San Diego comes to town.

This could be Williams' chance to make his case to be a starting safety of the future with both Iloka and Reggie Nelson set to become free agents after the 2015 season.