Right end Michael Johnson missed just one game in five seasons during his first stint with the Bengals.
The Bengals released their most discouraging injury report of the season Friday when they made two defensive starters doubtful in cornerback Adam Jones (foot) and right end Michael Johnson (back) for Sunday's game (8:30 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 5) in Arizona. Also doubtful is rotational defensive tackle Pat Sims (knee).
But on Saturday after working out at Arizona State's Dickey Dome, the Bengals upgraded Johnson and ruled out Sims. So it looks like Johnson has improved enough to possibly go.
Very rarely do players rated doubtful on Friday play on Sunday, which means they'd be losing one of their top players in Jones. Jones has been rated in the top five of profootballfocus.com's cornerback ratings virtually all season, a tough loss against the Cardinals' Carson Palmer, rated as the NFL's second-leading passer. Jones is also one of the top punt returners in the league and is currently ranked fifth at 11.7 yards per return.
It is going to be interesting to see what the Bengals do to replace Jones. Their slot corner, Leon Hall, has made 103 starts at cornerback. But he's had such a good year in the slot (PFF rates him No. 2 in the league in the slot) that the Bengals could leave him there and give Darqueze Dennard his first NFL start on the outside. Dennard, the club's 2014 first-rounder who has a cousin on the Cardinals, had a pass defensed on a third-down Monday night in the end zone when he replaced Jones for some snaps after he left the game with a shoulder issue.
Johnson has played nearly 80 percent of the snaps, so little-used Will Clarke and Margus Hunt would get their biggest workloads of the season at right end.
Jones and Johnson are simply two guys that don't sit out. It looks like Jones will miss his first game in 57 straight, dating back to Nov. 14, 2011. Johnson missed only one game in his first five seasons with the Bengals and had a 68-game streak.