With cornerback Darqueze Dennard recovering from a hip injury, James Wright going through concussion protocols, and defensive end Will Clarke on the team's inactive list, only three rookies from Cincinnati's 2014 NFL draft class will suit up on Sunday. Russell Bodine will start at center with running back Jeremy Hill and Marquis Flowers playing backup roles -- Flowers will primarily be special teams.
This mirrors last year's class, who had three active players during Cincinnati's regular season opener against Chicago: Tight end Tyler Eifert started, Giovani Bernard backed up BenJarvus Green-Ellis and safety Shawn Williams played special teams. Tanner Hawkins was an active/Did Not Play and Margus Hunt and Rex Burkhead were gameday inactives.
Now the '12 rookie class was special in that six players played in the regular season opener that year... the blowout on Monday Night Football against the Baltimore Ravens. Dre Kirkpatrick was out with an injury but Kevin Zeitler started with wide receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones playing backup, as was George Iloka, Brandon Thompson and Devon Still.
Even though there are three rookies from the '14 class playing on Sunday, there are four rookies playing with undrafted free agent Ryan Hewitt. Cornerback Onterio McCalebb, technically a first-year player after being on the practice squad last season, will make his NFL debut as well.