The Bengals and Vikings were back on the field Thursday for another joint practice session.
With the two teams squaring off Friday night in their preseason opener, Thursday was a slower practice with a lot of special teams work, but there were still some 11-on-11 reps in addition to individual drills.
Here is a look at our takeaways from what took place.
Injuries = Out Friday
We can already build a good list of players who won't be playing Friday night. Offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth continues to sit out due to a shoulder injury. He has yet to practice this week and won't be suiting up when the two teams really square off.
That means Jake Fisher is in line to star at left tackle on Friday. We didn't see much of him in camp or the preseason last year as he dealt with minor injuries, not to mention playing behind Whitworth, who it looks like the Bengals are giving extra rest to this year.
Also missing Thursday's session was Darqueze Dennard, whose ankle sprain will keep him out Friday. Combined with William Jackson III out indefinitely, we should see a lot of Chris Lewis-Harris, Josh Shaw, Corey Tindal, Chykie Brown, Darius Hillary and Tony McRae at corner.
As expected, Vontaze Burfict will not play Friday after not practicing Thursday. Lewis said earlier in camp that the Pro Bowl linebacker wasn't going to play in any preseason games, so don't expect to see Tez in live game action until Week 4 of the regular season against the Dolphins on Thursday Night Football.
After Thursday’s session, Lewis said that Burfict was the only player ruled out for Friday, but common sense says Dennard and Whitworth aren’t playing either.
One other Bengal we won't see Friday is Andrew Billings. The rookie defensive tackle suffered a knee injury Wednesday that will keep him sidelined for an unknown amount of time.
On Thursday, Marvin Lewis did not reveal what the extent of Billings' injury was and wouldn't give a timetable for his return. If Billings were to miss a significant part of the preseason and even into the regular season, that's going to put the Bengals in a bind with how to handle the roster there.
Does this mean the Bengals keep an extra tackle to make up for Billings being out? Do the Bengals just put Billings on I.R. if he's going to be out over a month?
The Bengals offense has found it surprisingly hard to penetrate the Vikings defense this week. That was painfully evident throughout Wednesday's session, and it was apparent on Thursday, too. Even in red-zone drills when the offense automatically started in scoring range, they struggled to put any points on the board.
Can feel the frustration from A.J. Green after another failed red zone play. I cut off video before NSFW language. pic.twitter.com/gBjAoizxJP— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 11, 2016
And it wasn't just the Vikings being dominant either. Bengals receivers dropped some passes and failed to step up. The one bright spot was Tyler Boyd catching a touchdown from Andy Dalton in these drills, but drops from other unnamed players is not what you want to hear about.
The good news is the Vikings offense wasn't much better. They couldn't get much of anything against a Bengals defense that was without Burfict and Dennard while making Teddy Bridgewater look average after he looked great on Wednesday.
Overall, we shouldn’t put too much into the Bengals’ struggles in a practice, which really came because of poor offensive line play. Bengals fans know how Mike Zimmer can make even some of the best o-lines look average.
Helping Zimmer here was Whitworth being out, leaving two tackles in Cedric Ogbuehi and Jake Fisher who have never started a game. They were who got beaten more often than not, but after Friday, they won’t have to see Zimmer or his defense again unless it’s in the Super Bowl.
On a positive note, from the field the Bengals’ defense was practicing on, here’s a play where Carlos Dunlap got the better of his former teammates Andre Smith.
With George Iloka, Shawn Williams and Derron Smith getting the majority of reps at safety, we haven't gotten many chances to see rookie Clayton Fejedelem in action. The seventh-round pick out of Illinois is battling Floyd Raven and veteran Jimmy Wilson for that fourth safety spot.
So far, we've rarely even heard a mention of any safety outside of those top three guys, but Thursday saw Fejedelem jump into the spotlight. Toward the end of practice, Fejedelem grabbed an interception on a pass thrown by Vikings backup Shaun Hill.
While picking off Hill is nothing to boast about, that is a veteran backup getting picked off by a rookie, so that's good to see from Fejedelem. He's going to need several big performances in the preseason to win one of the four safety spots on the final roster. This may be a nice step toward getting there.