The Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers will both be without several key players when they clash on Sunday.
For the Bengals, it’s wide receiver John Ross and tight end Tyler Eifert being ruled out. Eifert is down with a back and knee injury that kept him out of practice this week. The Bengals have been very mum on this, so there’s no telling how long the Pro Bowl tight end is out for.
The good news is the Bengals have a healthy C.J. Uzomah to help pick up the slack. Uzomah missed the first two games with an ankle injury, but he’s not even on the injury report this week. Uzomah and Tyler Kroft will need to step up in a big way to account for the loss of Eifert.
As for Ross, he is dealing with a knee injury. It’s not thought to be serious, though after seeing him benched after fumbling his first touch in Week 2, we probably shouldn’t expect to see him getting significant playing time in the near future. That means Cody Core and Brandon LaFell should see bigger roles in the offense while A.J. Green is the primary focus of opposing defenses.
The Bengals are also without Trey Hopkins, who is still recovering from a significant knee injury suffered in Week 1. Expect T.J. Johnson to start in his place yet again in Week 3, though he’s struggled enough that it won’t be a complete shock if a new starting right guard is in place Sunday. Andre Smith is still sitting on the bench, and it’s hard to see him not being better than at least one of the five current starting linemen.
It remains to be seen if Michael Johnson will make his return Sunday. He missed Week 2 while in the NFL concussion protocol. It’s unclear how far along in the protocol he is, which will determine if he faces the Packers. Johnson is listed as questionable after getting in two limited sessions followed by a full practice on Friday.
Backup defensive backs Derron Smith (ankle) and KeiVarae Russell (hamstring) are both listed as questionable. Russell was already likely to be inactive now that Adam Jones is back. Losing Smith would make a thin safety position even thinner.
As for the Packers, they have a host of key players listed as doubtful to play Sunday, including Randall Cobb (chest), Mike Daniels (hip), David Bakhtiari (hamstring), Nick Perry (hand), Jake Ryan (hamstring/concussion) and Davon House (quad).
There is no question that injuries have ravaged Green Bay far worse than Cincinnati entering Sunday. That defense is going to be vulnerable, which is exactly what Cincinnati’s struggling offense needed.
Green Bay’s offensive line is also in a world of hurt with Bakhtiari out, Jason Spriggs on injured reserve and Bryan Bulaga (ankle) questionable to play. We could see Jordan Willis, Carlos Dunlap, Chris Smith and Carl Lawson have big games at the expense of Aaron Rodgers.