Hopkins is working his way back from a knee injury suffered in the Bengals’ Week 1 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. He returned to practice this week, but after a layoff of three weeks, expecting him to play this soon wasn’t realistic.
Initially, Hopkins reportedly suffered a “major injury” to his knee in the first half of the regular-season opener. Thankfully, that turned out to not be the case, as he was back in practice on Sept. 27. He hadn’t practiced since Sept. 6 before returning for a limited session on Wednesday.
Hopkins was also limited on Thursday. With Friday being more of a light walkthrough, he’ll probably be listed as doubtful or out for Sunday’s matchup with the Cleveland Browns.
That means T.J. Johnson will likely start at right guard again. That’s proven to be a significant downgrade for what’s already been a struggling offensive line. Entering Week 4, Johnson has a Pro Football Focus grade of 49.5, putting him in their lowest tier of players.
It’s possible that the Bengals see what Alex Redmond, Christian Westerman and even Andre Smith can do this week, though Smith has been spending time at both tackle spots, while Westerman is typically a gameday inactive.
We can only hope that Hopkins is healthy enough to play in Week 5, though the team will probably sit him again before hitting their Week 6 bye. giving him ample time to rest and fully recover before making his return.