Bengals Re-Shuffle O-Line And Secondary For Steelers

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The Bengals offensive line moved again before Sunday's game in Pittsburgh when head coach Zac Taylor presented a lineup that had rookie Hakeem Adeniji making his first NFL start at right tackle a game after making his first start at left tackle.

With four assistant coaches not at the game because of Covid-19 related issues, backup right tackle Fred Johnson remained on the Covid player list and starting right tackle with Bobby Hart (knee) was on the inactive list for the second straight week.

Left tackle Jonah Williams (stinger-neck), who was limited all three days of practice, was active on an offensive line that had already been in flux. Two weeks ago against Tennessee the line had four different starters than the line that started Oct. 25 against Cleveland and helped pave the way for a 31-20 victory over the Titans with Adeniji at left tackle and Johnson at right tackle.

Sunday is quite a challenge for an O-line facing a Pittsburgh defense that leads the NFL in sacks and quarterback pressures.

One matchup that favored the Bengals emerged pregame with Steelers slot cornerback Mike Hilton on the inactive list. That should open up things for their slot man and leading receiver Tyler Boyd, who brings in 54 catches into his hometown on his 26th birthday.

As expected, joining Hart on the inactive list were running back Joe Mixon (foot), defensive tackle Geno Atkins (personal reasons), cornerback LeShaun Sims (concussion), offensive lineman Keaton Sutherland and kicker Austin Seibert.

All hands were on deck at cornerback after Sims was injured in Thursday's practice, Darius Phillips went to injured reserve with a groin issue and practice squadders Winston Rose and Brian Allen remained on the Covid list. Also out was their position coach, Steven Jackson. Along with wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell, linebackers coach Al Golden and senior defensive assistant Mark Duffner, Jackson didn't attend Sunday's game for Covid-19 related reasons.

That didn't leave many hands. William Jackson III and slot cornerback Mackensie Alexander were the only starting cornerbacks available and third-year cornerback Tony Brown was scheduled to start his fourth NFL game and first as a Bengal after taking his only defensive snap of the season two weeks ago against Tennessee.

Also getting the call at cornerback was first-year player Jalen Davis, signed to the practice squad three weeks ago after stints in Miami and Arizona accumulated 60 NFL snaps.

The Bengals lost a potential emergency cornerback when wide receiver John Ross sprained his foot in practice last week and went to injured reserve, where he has to be for three weeks. Ross, who played some cornerback in college at Washington, injured his foot while playing receiver. But before that when asked he told the coaches he was willing to help at cornerback.

It's been an extremely tough go for Ross, the Bengals 2017 first-rounder. Since the second game of the season he's played just one snap and has been inactive six times for either coaches' decisions or injury and/or illness.

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