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Bengals’ Giovani Bernard and Billy Price expected to return after missing multiple weeks

Despite being limited in practice all week, the Bengals’ seventh-year running back appears to be ready to play against the Saints.

Cincinnati Bengals v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

In the only game that features two teams with winning records this week, the injury bug couldn’t help but rear its ugly face as the weekend begins. Just after the final injury reports were released for Sunday’s showdown between the Bengals and Saints, New Orleans’ newest player Dez Bryant went down with an achilles injury, and the team fears it’s a tear in the infamous tendon.

For the home team, they got a mix of both good and bad news.

Running back Giovani Bernard and center Billy Price are both on track to play on Sunday, per Geoff Hobson of bengals.com. For Bernard, it would be his first game since Week 4 when he injured his knee after running for 69 rushing yards and two touchdowns against the Falcons. As for the rookie Price, he will make his third career start at center since he left the middle of Week 2’s divisional matchup against the Ravens with a foot injury.

Despite getting back both Bernard and Price, the Bengals are still from clear from injuries. They were already planning on being without starters A.J. Green, Tyler Kroft, Vontaze Burfict, Nick Vigil and Darqueze Dennard as all of them are still dealing with their respective ailments.

Joining them on the inactive list now figures to be Alex Redmond and Josh Malone. Redmond is listed as doubtful with a hamstring injury after getting just a single limited practice in this week and Malone appeared on the injury report when his own hamstring started hurting him on Thursday.

Redmond obviously didn’t get a full practice under his belt this week while dealing with his injury, but surprisingly, Bernard didn’t either and head coach is supposedly giving him the green light regardless.

“He feels better each day. He’s had a productive week, seemed to fit in and feel good about things each day.” Head coach Marvin Lewis said to reporters on Friday. “I think having Monday was great. It was an advantage for a guy like (Bernard) as he works his way back. A little bit of going out and getting used to being out on the football field again and out there within the offense. The little work he got on Monday and to work through the week can be good.”

Being the precautious organization they are, the Bengals almost never allow a player to play after being a limited participant in practice during the week prior. Bernard returning after over a month of recovery time fits with the initial diagnosis we were given following his injury. But still, without practicing in full with the team, Bernard is expected to be out on the field against a suspect Saints defense.

With Redmond and Malone effectively replacing Bernard and Price on the inactive list, that will lead to at least two things. For one, Trey Hopkins will start in place for Redmond at right guard. Hopkins proved he could play center if needed this season when he replaced Price, but Hopkins was a guard before he snapped for Andy Dalton. He has a chance to provide the Bengals with a temporary upgrade between Price and right tackle Bobby Hart.

Malone’s absence will also ensure rookie wide receiver Auden Tate will be dressed for the first time in his professional career. Even with Green out, it wasn’t a guarantee that Tate would be active for the game, as Malone and Cody Core have been members of the active roster far longer that Tate has. Presumably, Tate will remain behind both Core and Alex Erickson on the depth chart, but now that they have a chance to play him, it will be interesting to see how they use their 11th and final draft pick from this year.

The Bengals are slowly but surely getting healthier as they enter the second half of the season. Hopefully it’s a trend that continues.