Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow celebrated his 25th birthday with a pretty typical Friday morning practice and head coach Zac Taylor declared no limitations for him in Sunday's game (4:25 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) at Paul Brown Stadium against the 49ers.
Taylor also had encouraging news on running back Joe Mixon. Even though he missed the third straight practice of the week with an illness, Taylor anticipates him playing in a game Mixon enters 22 yards shy of becoming the NFL's second 1,000-yard back of the season. Still, he listed him questionable. He also listed wide receiver Tee Higgins (ankle) even though it seems like they also expect him to play despite going limited the last two days.
Also after Friday's practice, Taylor was thinking positively of cornerback Trae Waynes (hamstring) returning to the lineup for the first time since Oct. 10, as well as the status of the other starting cornerback. Chidobe Awuzie took some reps for the first time since injuring his foot making an interception late in the first half of last Sunday's game against the Chargers and was listed as limited and questionable.
He'll hold off on making a call on both cornerbacks until Saturday, particularly on Waynes as he comes back from re-injuring the hamstring problem that has limited him to two games this season. That's going to take a roster move on Saturday with Waynes on injured reserve.
"It looks positive for him. Tomorrow we have to make the final decision, so we'll make sure nothing pops up," Taylor said. "But he took a ton of reps and looks good out there. Chido took some reps today, too, and is feeling better, but for both those guys we'll see how they feel tomorrow and make final decisions at that point."
After not being around Wednesday and Thursday, Mixon showed up in sweats with a mask even though he has tested negative for COVID-19.
"He didn't feel great, whatever it is," said Taylor, who says it's not the flu, either. "We don't want guys going through an illness to be out there pushing through it. We were smart with him. He felt better today, so he was out there."
Taylor said Mixon has been Zooming into meetings, so he's familiar with the game plan. They'll make one more check of him Saturday before making the call, but Taylor said he expects to play in a game Mixon could tie the team record with a touchdown in his 10th straight game.
Taylor also expects wide receiver Tee Higgins (ankle) to go.
Burrow, who dislocated his throwing pinky on last Sunday's fifth snap, was also listed on Thursday's injury report with the finger as well as a knee designation. But Taylor said there's no issue with the knee after Burrow sat out Wednesday, was limited Thursday and went full go Friday.
"He got in about as much work, especially today and most of yesterday, than he normally gets," Taylor said. "It's important for him to see if there were any limitations. I feel really good where we're at."
The Bengals linebacking corps continued to get pummeled this week. With starting middle linebacker and leading tackler Logan Wilson (shoulder) out at least this week, Akeem Davis-Gaither on injured reserve for the past month and Markus Bailey (neck) listed as doubtful, they are missing three of their four backers for the 49ers' No. 7 run game. That probably means second-year man Joe Bachie is getting his first NFL start in his 12th NFL game. And, Clay Johnston, another sophomore, may get more work from scrimmage in his fourth Bengals game after taking one snap there since arriving last month via waivers. And, a backer or two that has yet to play in a game for them this season (Keandre Jones and Austin Calitro) figure to get the call from the practice squad. Bailey went limited all three days.
The offensive line is back to its starting five after missing center Trey Hopkins and right tackle Riley Reiff last week with ankle injuries. They went full Friday after being limited all week.