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The Debrief: Bengals make roster moves ahead of Sunday Night Football

Cincinnati promoted cornerback KeiVarae Russell on Thursday and waived wide receiver Auden Tate. However, the Bengals saw improvement with Shawn Williams, providing hope for Cincinnati’s injured secondary.

Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Goodbye Auden Tate (for now), hello KeiVarae Russell. With several defensive backs recovering from injuries, the Bengals signed cornerback KeiVarae Russell off the team’s practice squad Thursday. To make room, they waived wide receiver Auden Tate (more on that in a second).

Russell is joining the 53-man roster before a game against the team that originally drafted him. Russell was originally Kansas City’s lone third-round selection during the 2016 NFL draft. However, he was waived one game into his rookie season. Head coach Andy Reid, at the time, called it a football decision. “We felt that was the best thing to do for the Chiefs right now,” said Reid via ESPN. “That’s just how we felt. We evaluate players and that’s how we felt.”

The crew at Arrowhead Pride said at the time:

When the Chiefs make “football decisions”, they’re rooted in a patient developmental process made possible by a harmonious front office-coaching staff relationship. Dumping Russell after the first week of the regular season defies this process at every step.

Russell admitted to struggling in Kansas City’s defense. “I’m getting better, but I definitely struggled at first,” Russell said via KansasCity.com. “I still had a lot of what I learned in college in my mind ... when I’d go out to practice, the terminology I was supposed to say, I wouldn’t say it the right way or I’d put it into a different defense. It’s been tough, mentally.”

It simply didn’t work out. Cincinnati snatched Russell off waivers a day after Kansas City released him. During the regular season finale in 2016, Russell recorded a fourth quarter interception against Baltimore’s Ryan Mallett (remember him?).

Russell played eight games in 2017, generating eight tackles and a blocked field goal against Denver — a 61-yard attempt from Brandon McManus.

Russell signed with Cincinnati’s team’s practice squad during roster cuts in 2018. If there’s a game for Russell to circle on the calendar, expressing a desire for vengeance, it’s Sunday.

Cornerback Darqueze Dennard (sternoclavicular) missed Thursday’s practice and is likely out Sunday against the Chiefs.

A reminder that we probably won’t see Giovani Bernard, Tyler Kroft, Nick Vigil or Billy Price on Sunday. Price and Bernard spent time on the team’s rehab field today during practice.

A.J. Green was late to practice... and frankly, I don’t care. As a result, he was listed as a limited participant. We’re not concerned. Moving on.

Bengals Injury/Practice Report Week 7

POS BENGALS INJURY WED THUR FRI STATUS
POS BENGALS INJURY WED THUR FRI STATUS
RB Giovani Bernard Knee/Toe DNP DNP
CB Darqueze Dennard Sternoclavicular DNP DNP
TE Tyler Kroft Foot DNP DNP
C Billy Price Foot DNP DNP
LB Nick Vigil Knee DNP DNP
S Shawn Williams Concussion DNP LP
LB Vincent Rey Hamstring LP LP
TE C.J. Uzomah Shoulder LP LP
WR A.J. Green NIR -- LP
DE Carlos Dunlap Buttock LP FP
LB Jordan Evans Hamstring LP FP
S Clayton Fejedelem Thigh LP FP
OT Cordy Glenn Ankle LP FP
QB Andy Dalton Back FP FP
OT Cedric Ogbuehi Wrist FP FP
WR John Ross Groin FP FP

Auden Tate, this year’s preseason darling was waived. Each August, Cincinnati features a training camp darling — a young player facing impossible odds to make the 53-man roster who makes “some” impressive contributions. Those players are often wide receivers, such as James Wright, Cobi Hamilton, and Jake Kumorow (God, I miss that hair). This year’s darling was Tate — who only posted three receptions during the preseason (two during the preseason finale).

Tate, a fan-favorite, made the 53-man roster earlier this year, but was essentially the team’s seventh receiver — an oddity in the typical makeup of a team’s roster. He’s yet to make the 46-man gameday roster, largely because he isn’t a special teams contributor. Josh Malone and Cody Core hold those honors. If Tate clears waivers, expect him to take Russell’s spot on the practice squad (just as Russell took Tate’s spot on the roster).

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