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Bengals receive good and bad news at Thursday practice

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The Bengals had one defensive starter return Thursday while another remained mysteriously sidelined.

NFL: Preseason-Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Bengals hit the practice field Thursday for their second practice of the week, but first official pre-Giants session.

Starting defensive end Michael Johnson was back on the field after missing Tuesday sessions, but the same was not true of starting linebacker Rey Maualuga, nor wide receiver James Wright.

Maualuga not being able to practice is a concerning, and per one report, he is not expected to play on Monday night. He is struggling mightily this season, as evidenced by him being rated among Pro Football Focus’ worst linebackers this year, which is why he should be benched if his poor play keeps up. If Maualuga doesn’t play on Monday, Vinny Rey will likely see more of the field and rookie Nick Vigil may see his first significant snaps of the year on defense.

With how little production the Bengals are getting from their defensive ends not named Carlos Dunlap, Johnson being back at practice is a good thing. He needs all the work he can get. The 29-year-old Johnson has just 1.5 sacks through eight games and is on pace to finish with just three, marking the fewest he’s had since 2010 (2.5). He needs to step up over the next eight games to help this defense become even respectable again.

Johnson may get some help from veteran defensive end Wallace Gilberry, who is back with the Bengals after signing earlier this week.

If Johnson were to be sidelined, the Bengals would rely on Gilberry, Margus Hunt and Will Clarke to help offset the loss.

As for wide receiver James Wright, him missing practice is more likely due to the team managing his surgically-repaired knee. Wright has frequently gotten a day or two each week off throughout the season. He didn’t practice Tuesday but did get some rehab work in. If he were to miss Monday, rookie receiver Cody Core would likely be active in his place.

As for players working on the rehab field, the normal trio of Brandon Thompson, William Jackson III and Cedric Peerman were all working there.

Thompson is eligible to come off PUP at any moment after opening the season there, but it does not look like that will come in Week 10. He is still working his way back from a torn ACL suffered in Week 17 of the 2015 season, so it’s possible he does not play this year.

Jackson is recovering from a torn pectoral muscle suffered in training camp. Peerman is recovering from a broken forearm suffered in the third preseason game. Both players are vying for the one I.R. designation to return spot that Cincinnati can use, and it looks like Jackson is the slight favorite. We probably should not expect a decision either way this week.

Jackson seems to believe the wait for his return is nearing its end.

Check back later for the full practice and participation report for both the Bengals and Giants.