Bengals: All eyes on Darius Phillips as Mike Williams gets the green light

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams is set to play against the Cincinnati Bengals despite his status being up in the air.

The Cincinnati Bengals will indeed have to face Mike Williams, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that the talented wide receiver is set to play in today’s contest. The Chargers’ go-to pass-catcher was listed as questionable for week one after a shoulder injury has had him sidelined for quite some time. Original reports indicated he would be out, but the tide has since shifted.

Williams adds another dangerous playmaker to a Chargers offense that already has some very capable weapons in Keenan Allen, Austin Ekeler, and Hunter Henry. With the injury devastation Cincinnati’s secondary has been hit with, they’ll need guys like Darius Phillips to step up in a big way if they are to keep Los Angeles’ passing attack at bay.

Bengals’ Darius Phillips will be an X-factor vs. the Chargers

Phillips will be making the third start of his young career, filling in for Trae Waynes, who the Bengals have lost to injury. The youngster out of Western Michigan has developed a knack for being a ball hawk, leading the defense in interceptions last year (4) despite having just 109 snaps.

In that sense, Phillips is the very definition of an X-factor. If he can continue generating turnovers at such a high rate, he can flip this game on its head and give rookie quarterback Joe Burrow additional opportunities to put points up on the board. However, the risk of inconsistency and giving up big plays is there, as the talented defensive back showed he was prone to that sort of thing at times a season ago.

Thankfully for the Bengals, the Chargers have quarterback Tyrod Taylor at the helm, so the offensive gameplan likely revolves around the rushing attack more so than the passing game. Make no mistake about it though, Los Angeles will test Phillips by attempting to get him on an island against either Williams or Allen. If Phillips can shut them down early, he can shift the pressure off himself.

As the new era of the Bengals franchise gets underway today, Phillips is in a position to help ensure it gets off to a fast start.