Kevin Zeitler Inactive; Nico Johnson Starts
Kevin Zeitler is inactive once more today with a calf injury. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Cincinnati Bengals right guard Kevin Zeitler is officially inactive today after re-aggravating his calf injury.
Kevin Zeitler has been having a fantastic season overall, but he’s been yet another victim of the relentless injury bug that has been plaguing the Bengals this year. The Bengals will ask veteran guard Mike Pollak to once again reprise his role as a starting guard; Pollak has been consistently in the lineup over the past couple of years as both Zeitler and Clint Boling have been hurt several times over the past couple of years.
It’s a significant blow to the Bengals’ running game as Kevin Zeitler is clearly the team’s best run blocker. Rookie runner Jeremy Hill will certainly miss his presence as he gets his first start today with Giovani Bernard out with clavicle and hip injuries. The same goes for Rex Burkhead who may get to see the field as a running back for the first time in his career as he’ll likely assume the backup running back role with Jeremy Hill taking the lead.
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With both Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict out today, recently acquired linebacker Nico Johnson will make his first start today. The Bengals signed Johnson off of the Chiefs’ practice squad this year following the injury to Sean Porter. Johnson was a star linebacker for the Crimson Tide and is known for his run-stopping prowess. He’ll have a great opportunity to make a name for himself today as the Bengals have struggled against the run this year. Johnson had been “shedding weight” this year in hopes of getting faster and being more agile. Hopefully it’s paid off as the quick and slashing style of Jaguars running back Denard Robinson has allowed him to produce over 100 yards/game over the last two games. Johnson will be key in stopping this trend today.