The Bengals suffered more than just another home loss to the Steelers this past Sunday. Amidst the numerous injuries they suffered on the defensive side of the ball, two of them seem to be bad enough for them to be shorthanded when they travel to Kansas City for a Sunday night matchup vs. the Chiefs.
Per Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com, Cincinnati will be preparing for their game against Kansas City with cornerback Darqueze Dennard “likely out” and safety Shawn Williams “possibly out”.
Dennard is dealing with a bad shoulder that he injured 12 snaps into the Steelers game, while Williams is recovering from a concussion that took him out of the game twice on two separate occasions and didn’t return after playing 42 snaps.
The two combined to miss 92 snaps and backups Tony McRae and Clayton Fejedelem filled in for Dennard and Williams respectively. Rookie cornerback Darius Phillips and second-year safety Brandon Wilson also got in on the action with four snaps each.
Along with Dennard and Williams, the other three starters in the secondary were also playing hurt. Rookie safety Jessie Bates also was briefly taken out for a concussion of his own. Cornerback William Jackson re-aggravated his knee injury he was playing through, and Dre Kirkpatrick was also briefly sidelined. For a full roundup of Sunday’s injuries, check out our recap here.
If there was ever a week not to have injuries in the secondary however, it’s this week. The Chiefs passing offense, lead by the electric Patrick Mahomes under center, is third in net yards per attempt, and Mahomes lead the league in passing touchdowns entering last week as well.
If McRae and Fejedelem have to start for Dennard and Williams, it’s going to be hard for the Bengals defense to contain Mahomes and his plethora of weapons. The Chiefs will most likely force the Bengals to operate out of their nickel personnel, which would force McRae onto the field. Both defenders are solid niche players, but over an elongated period, they could get exposed, especially against a quarterback and play-caller duo as lethal as Mahomes and head coach Andy Reid.
Luckily, Phillips showed signs of competence in his limited time on the field with two defensive stops. If he can alleviate McRae’s usage and at the very least hold his own, the loss of Dennard would be minimized.
Even if both Dennard and Williams end up playing through injury, the Chiefs are going to put up a lot of points on the Bengals defense. It will be up to the offense to match them in a primetime setting on the road.