Updated: 2:10 p.m.
Let the speculation begin now that the Bengals have placed safety Taylor Mays on season-ending injured reserve with the shoulder he hurt on the final play of the first half in Sunday's 49-9 victory over the Jets.
That opens a roster spot and a possibility is slot receiver Andrew Hawkins, eligible to come off injured reserve-recall for Thursday's game (8:25 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 5 and NFL Network) in Miami. With No. 1 slot receiver Mohamed Sanu (shoulder) not practicing, Hawkins can potentially join forces with Dane Sanzenbacher inside. Hawkins, an excellent gunner on punt coverage, would also give the special teams a lift with the loss of Mays, a special-teamer that had two tackles and a fumble recovery in the kicking game.
In a twist of fate, Mays had been promoted to a linebacker in the nickel package because of a pair of season-ending shoulder injuries in preseason to linebackers Emmanuel Lamur and fourth-rounder Sean Porter. The Bengals may have an answer in nine-year veteran Michael Boley, but maybe not this week. Boley (hamstring), along with middle linebacker Rey Maualuga (knee, concussion), an occasional nickel player, didn't practice Tuesday, and Maualuga was ruled out Wednesday before the club went to Miami.
Boley was called questionable, as were left tackle Andrew Whitworth, (knee), wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (shoulder), defensive tackle Wallace Gilberry (groin) and running back Rex Burkhead (hamstring). All but Burkead (limited) didn't practice Tuesday.
Indications are that Maualuga's knee isn't a month-long issue and that there could be a shot he's be ready for the next game Nov. 10 in Baltimore if he doesn't go Thursday. So defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is going have to improvise in the nickel against the Dolphins among candidates that include little-used backup linebackers Vincent Rey, J.K. Schaffer and rookie Jayson DiManche. DiManche and Schaffer have a combined 14 snaps from scrimmage, all by DiManche.
JONES HONORED: Off his franchise-record four touchdown catches last Sunday against the Jets, Marvin Jones became the first Bengals wide receiver to win AFC Offensive Player of the Week since Chad Johnson nearly six years ago for his efforts on Nov. 25, 2007 against the Titans. Johnson was the last Bengal to catch three TDs that day until Jones came along.
Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green has yet to be a player of the week, but he was a player of the month back in September 2012. Jones joined quarterback Andy Dalton (two weeks ago in Buffalo) as winners this year and Dalton is all but assured AFC Offensive Player for October.