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Bengals offensive coaches had to change the game plan an hour before kickoff

Thinking on their feet.

NFL: DEC 04 Chiefs at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

NFL coaches spend days, sometimes even weeks going over their game plans before an NFL game. That is no different for the Cincinnati Bengals offensive staff, but they were forced to think on their feet today.

After a week of practice, coaches expected wide receiver Tee Higgins to play without limitations from his hamstring injury. Higgins was removed from the injury report and appeared good to go. That is, until pregame warmups. The Bengals’ training staff let head coach Zac Taylor know around noon that Higgins’ hamstring was not responding well.

90 minutes prior to kickoff of every game, teams are required to submit their inactive player list to the league. Higgins was listed as good to go, so his roster spot was in place and no other player could be elevated.

After the Higgins news, Cincinnati lost wideout Tyler Boyd to a dislocated finger on the first drive, further testing the staff’s ability to adjust.

Taylor explained that quarterbacks coach Dan Pitcher and offensive coordinator Brian Callahan handled third down situations and wide receivers Troy Walters and tight ends coach James Casey handled the red zone play sets.

Essentially, the staff got thrown a curveball with 60 minutes to go before kickoff and were able to change what they worked all week on, something Taylor credits to his assistant coaches.

“It was a constant conversation for four quarters in how that affects the game plan,” Taylor said. “Again, that’s why I’m thankful we’ve got great coaches on staff. I’ve got to focus on the game, I’ve got to focus on calling plays, and guys are feeding me calls as we get in different situations based on their problem-solving taking place behind the scenes.”

Taylor and his staff have shown a lot of growth and versatility this season, finding ways to win different types of games. They look prepared to handle a shootout, a slugfest and even games when star players are out with an hour’s notice.

The ability of the staff to adjust on the fly is great, but let’s hope it isn’t anything quite as drastic going forward.