NFL Week 14: Banged-up Bengals set to host Bears

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 04: Vontaze Burfict
CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 04: Vontaze Burfict /

The Cincinnati Bengals’ injury report is lengthy, heading into Week 14.

The Cincinnati Bengals may have to have an open tryout at Paul Brown Stadium pretty soon. Going into this Sunday’s clash with the last-place Bears, the Bengals (5-7) are still feeling the effects of Monday’s hard-hitting loss to Pittsburgh.

There were 10 players who did not participate in Thursday’s practice, including eight starters.

Geno Atkins (toe), Vontaze Burfict (concussion), Nick Vigil (ankle), Darqueze Dennard (knee), Adam Jones (groin), Dre Kirkpatrick (concussion), Shawn Williams (hamstring), Brandon Wilson (ankle) and Joe Mixon (concussion) were all sidelined.

Linebacker Vincent Rey (hamstring) was limited.

On defense

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That makes life pretty difficult for Paul Guenther, even against Chicago’s offense, which ranks dead last in the NFL this season.

Nick Vigil was a candidate to go on injured reserve this week. Instead, the Bengals shocked many when first-round pick John Ross was put on the IR. The rookie apparently hid a shoulder injury and will undergo season-ending surgery. That ends the Washington product’s season with no catches and one fumble.

Cincinnati’s linebackers will be chasing down Jordan Howard, fifth in the NFL in rushing yards, this Sunday. They will be severely short-handed in doing so. Jim Haslett’s group will likely be without Vigil and will have to wait and see on Rey and Burfict.

Rey missed Monday’s game against Pittsburgh and Burfict is in concussion protocol, which can be tricky.

Expect to see a lot of rookies Jordan Evans and Hardy Nickerson.

NFL Week 14: Banged-up Bengals set to host Bears
Dre Kirkpatrick (concussion) did not practice on Thursday. The veteran corner had one of his worst games on Monday against Pittsburgh. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) /

The Bengals’ banged-up secondary has five members that did not practice on Thursday. It’s unclear who will be able to go with the uncertainty of concussion protocol lingering over the status of Dre Kirkpatrick and the unknown severity of Adam Jones’ groin issue.

On offense

Rookie Joe Mixon did not practice on Thursday, either. That would mean Giovani Bernard gets a full workload for the first time in forever. The shifty, dual-threat back is getting less than four carries per game this season, but with Mixon possible out and Jeremy Hill on IR, it could be Bernard’s backfield against Chicago.

Bernard hasn’t logged more than 20 carries since September 20, 2015, when he ran for 120 yards in a 24-19 win over San Diego. 

The opponent

The Bears (3-9) have the NFL’s worst passing offense (160 yards per game). Chicago is going through growing pains, as expected, with rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The No. 2 pick last April has thrown for over 200 yards just once this season with five touchdowns against four picks. The Ohio native is averaging just 6.41 yards per attempt, tied for 26th out of 35 quarterbacks this season.

What’s at stake?

 The Bengals are holding onto the slimmest chance of a playoff spot. It seems apparent Cincinnati will have to win out to capture the No. 6 seed. The New York Times gives the Bengals a 32 percent chance at the Wild Card if they win out.

They’d need some help, too. The Ravens would probably have to lose three of their final four. But Baltimore has Cleveland and Indianapolis still left on the schedule.