The Bengals hit the practice field Thursday for their final major practice before Sunday's slugfest in Pittsburgh. With Friday being more of a walkthrough, how much players can practice on Thursday is typically a good indicator of their status heading into the next game.
That's why seeing Darqueze Dennard practice again is a good sign for him making his 2016 debut Sunday vs the Steelers. Dennard missed Week 1 after getting in three limited practices, but did fully practice this Wednesday. As long as he got a full session in on Thursday, he should be good to go, which is great news with Pittsburgh's high-flying offense on deck.
Dennard is going to play a major role in helping fellow corners Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick and Josh Shaw defend Antonio Brown, Sammie Coates, Markus Wheaton and Eli Rogers. Dennard will probably get matched up with Brown several times in the slot, as Pittsburgh likes to move their All-Pro receiver all around the offense.
As for the rest of the Bengals, defensive tackle Pat Sims missed his second straight practice while dealing with what’s now being called an ankle injury. That cost him a practice last week, but he did go on to play vs the Jets. It looks like Sims may miss Week 2, which means backup DeShawn Williams should be activated vs the Steelers.
Williams is more of a pass-rusher than a run-defender, but Pittsburgh is dangerous in both regards, so it will be interesting to see how Cincinnati manages the defensive tackle rotation this week. Williams has never been active on gameday, but was called up to the 53-man roster last year for the Wild Card loss to Pittsburgh.
Offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth was back practicing. He got his typical Wednesday veteran's rest day off on Wednesday.
On the rehab field, it was the same trio of cornerback William Jackson III, tight end Tyler Eifert and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson getting work in. Thompson is still on PUP, while Jackson is on I.R., but could get the designation to return after eight weeks. Eifert is eligible to play right now, but he’s still likely still several weeks from playing.
Be sure to check back later for the full practice and participation report for Thursday.