*Rookie Josh Malone: active for the first time in NFL Sunday against Steelers. *
PITTSBURGH _ The Bengals faced the NFL’s leading receiver Sunday without starting cornerback Adam Jones when the back injury he suffered two weeks ago in the win over Buffalo put him on the inactive list 90 minutes before kickoff at Heinz Field. That figured to give Darqueze Dennard the start when the Steelers deploy wide receiver Antonio Brown and his league-best 700 yards.
As expected rookie Josh Malone avoided the inactive list for the first time in his career when fellow back-up wide receivers Tyler Boyd (knee) and John Ross (knee) were shelved. Also inactive because of a knee injury is fullback Ryan Hewitt. Back-up guards Christian Westerman and Alex Redmond are inactive as they have been for much of the year, except when Redmond played 14 snaps against Cleveland Oct. 1.
Backup-safety Derron Smith (ankle) was inactive for the fourth straight game.
Jones is a tough loss against Brown. Last year the Bengals, who don’t switch the sides of their corners, held Brown to a total of just seven catches for 97 yards. In the first game profootballfocus.com had Jones holding Brown to two catches for 26 yards on eight targets and in the second game PFF had Jones’ only play against Brown a pass defensed. Brown’s big play in that game was a 32-yarder against cornerback Josh Shaw, a guy that rotates at times with Dennard.
When Dennard goes into the slot, William Jackson is the guy that has been playing the bulk of the snaps outside opposite of Dre Kirkpatrick, the other starting corner. Jackson, a second-year player who didn’t play last season because of injury, has been up-and-down. He leads the team with six penalties but also has a pick-six.
The Bengals are hoping left end Carlos Dunlap can make hay against right tackle Chris Hubbard, a backup playing in place of injured starter Marcus Gilbert.
With Steelers defensive end Stephon Tuitt also out, the Bengals feel like they are attacking them without one of their two top defenders.