Bengals Pro Bowl wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase arrived at Paycor Stadium just after 10 Sunday morning wearing a "Jesus Loves," shirt and a questionable tag on his back for the game against the Texans.
He walked on the field about 20 minutes later, but instead of catching tennis balls from wide receivers coach Troy Walters, Chase underwent a series of exercises under the watchful eye of strength and conditioning coach Joey Boese as Walters and head athletic trainer Matt Summers looked on.
After slot receiver Tyler Boyd finished his pre-game interview with CBS, he hollered out, "How are we looking?" and as Chase burst into laughter, Boyd jokingly commanded, "Get your mind right."
Then it got serious when head coach Zac Taylor joined the confab and after the five got in a circle for a couple of minutes, it broke up. Only Chase and Walters stayed on the goal line outside the Bengals locker room and when the tennis balls started flying it confirmed Chase (back) was going to be active on a day running mate Tee Higgins (hamstring) wasn't.
Practice-squad wide receivers Stanley Morgan, Jr., and Shed Jackson were also active with Charlie Jones (thumb) still on injured reserve. But that was for special teams because rookie wide receiver Andrei Iosivas won't be in the kicking game as much because he'll be getting all his snaps from scrimmage and if they start with three wide receivers he'll get his first NFL start.
Jackson, out of Auburn, becomes the Bengals' first undrafted rookie to play this season in his NFL debut. Not able to use their top two gunners as much with Iosivas playing a lot from scrimmage and Tycen Anderson (ACL) out for the year, look for Jackson, veteran teamer Stanley Morgan Jr., and rookie cornerback DJ Ivey, in his third game, to get their shots in the kicking game.
Joining Higgins on the inactive list are left end Sam Hubbard (ankle), nose tackle Josh Tupou, linebacker Devin Harper and offensive linemen Trey Hill and Jackson Carman.
D-LINE COUNTING ON DEPTH: With two defensive linemen out, everybody else is probably going to get more than their share of snaps. Tupou (shoulder) hasn't played the last half of this season, but Hubbard has been a yeoman, leading the line with 78% of the snaps and producing four sacks and 25 tackles.
But Taylor thinks this is a game the Bengals show why they're proud of their versatile depth up front, starting with end/tackle Cam Sample. He'll probably get his second start in his third season in place of Hubbard. But like starting tackle B.J. Hill, backup tackle Zach Carter and backup edge Joseph Ossai, Sample can play in and out.
"I don't think our D-line in general gets enough credit.," Taylor said Friday. I think (Hill is) glimpse into the entirety of the D-Line room. "I think it seems crazy to say, but they're an underrated defensive line. It seems crazy because we watch them every day and we watch them play every game. They're really, really good.
"Guys like Cam Sample and Josh and those veterans who are kind of behind them, guys that don't get a lot of credit, but you can plug them in there and they're going keep the thing going," Taylor said. "And make the plays that come their way."
SLANTS AND SCREENS: Jimmy Burrow, dad of Joe, played his last NFL game at Riverfront Stadium in 1976 before embarking on a career as an all-league safety in Canada in Montreal. On Sunday, Joe Burrow arrived at Paycor in Jimmy's No. 16 Alouettes jersey …
Any guesses on game captains? One has to be former Texan draft pick DJ Reader …And it was. Even more impressive, he was the only one Taylor sent out there ...
Matchup Of The Game could very well be on that D-Line, where Bengals leading sacker Trey Hendrickson has eight on the edge in eight games and goes against Texans perennial Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil. According to Pro Football Focus, Tunsil has allowed three sacks this season …
Five listed Texans starters were inactive: wide receiver Nico Collins, safety Jimmie Ward, linebacker Henry To'oTo' o, running back Dameon Pierce and fullback Andrew Beck ....