Bengals-Ravens Re-Set: Awuzie Returns as Reader Goes To COVID List; Ravens Eye Ex-Bengal Josh Johnson To Quarterback Game For First Place

Mike Daniels returns Sunday.
Mike Daniels returns Sunday.

The COVID-list that has decimated the Ravens for what amounts to Sunday's (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) AFC North title game at Paul Brown Stadium turned its attention to the Bengals defensive line when they put play-making nose tackle D.J. Reader on COVID Reserve Saturday afternoon.

On a day backup edge Khalid Kareem (concussion) was ruled out, another backup edge, Wyatt Ray, also went on the COVID list. The Bengals did activate starting cornerback Chidobe Awuzie off the COVID list while elevating four from the practice squad that included defensive tackle Mike Daniels and edge Noah Spence making their season debuts.

Going on the COVID list the day before a game virtually rules out a player from playing because the transaction deadline for the game has passed.

The flurry of moves came in the wake of the Ravens ruling out quarterback Lamar Jackson (ankle) for the game between the two 8-6 teams tied for first place in the division. With the Bengals win in Baltimore on Oct. 24, they hold the tie-breaker edge and can deliver a near death blow on Sunday.

It looks like the quarterback standing between the Bengals and sole possession of first place is one of their old backup quarterbacks who made Cincinnati one of his endless stops during his 13-season journey through the pros.

According to, 35-year-old Josh Johnson, who has been with the Ravens for nine days, is expected to get his ninth NFL start after Jackson's backup, Tyler Huntley, also went on the COVID list Saturday.

Johnson came to Cincinnati in 2013 on one a one-year deal to back up Andy Dalton with the tie being Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, a Tampa Bay assistant when the Bucs drafted Johnson in the fifth round of the 2008 draft. He played in two games for the Bengals that AFC North title season but never threw a pass. The Bengals re-signed him before the 2015 draft and cut him late in training camp.

Since then Johnson has signed with 11 different teams and since he made his last start in Washington in 2018 he's been in the Alliance of American Football League and the XFL.

Johnson re-surfaced this season with the Jets when No. 3 quarterback Mike White went down after beating the Bengals on Halloween. Coming off the bench in three games, Johnson completed 29 of 45 passes for three touchdowns and an interception before the Jets cut him and Baltimore picked him up when Jackson hurt his ankle two weeks ago.

Reader has been brilliant for a resurging defensive line that has the Bengals fifth against the run. But Daniels, 32, is quite a luxury to have on the practice squad this late in the season. Daniels, a former Pro Bowler, has been on the practice squad all season after starting 11 games for the Bengals last season when Reader down with a torn quad.

Ray, claimed on waivers from the Titans just before the season, has played in every game but one. He took just one snap in Denver last week after playing ten against San Francisco and two against the Chargers in games this month.

Spence has also been on the practice squad all year after the Bengals signed him with injuries to edgers Kareem and Joseph Ossai in training camp. A second-round pick by Tampa Bay in 2016 via Ohio State and Eastern Kentucky, Spence had a sack in seven games with Washington last season.

Wide receiver Trent Taylor got promoted again from the practice squad, meaning he'll be returning punts for the second straight game. With Markus Bailey expected to make his first NFL start at linebacker in the wake of Joe Bachie's ACL injury, linebacker Austin Calitro was again elevated.