If long snapper Clark Harris plays every game this season, he'll finish the year with 152 games as a Bengal, one more than Chad Johnson, the club's all-time leading receiver, and two fewer than Bob Johnson, the team's first draft pick ever. But when he surfaced on Wednesday's injury report as a DNP with a concussion, his chase of the franchise icons not only slowed but it has a battered roster bracing for a move when it has run out of moves. If he can't go Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 19, click for tickets) against the Bucs at Paul Brown Stadium, that's dicey.
C.J. Uzomah, now playing 95 percent of the snaps for the depleted tight end group, is the emergency long snapper. But that's not an option for a game. They'd have go out and sign somebody and cut someone to make room. Good luck since all seven spots on Sunday's inactive list figure to be grabbed by injured players.
But that's what the Bengals had to do for the only three games Harris has missed in Cincy when a groin issue nagged him late in the 2016 season. If he plays Sunday, it's his 144th Bengal game, tying him with his predecessor Brad St. Louis. Next up is Rich Braham's 146 and punter Pat McInally's 149. Punter Kevin Huber can pass McInally Sunday with his 150th game.
Photos from practice in preparation for the Buccaneers in Week 8.
FRANKS TALK: The Bengals coaches can't get enough of recently promoted tight end Jordan Franks, an undrafted rookie out of Central Florida making his NFL debut Sunday. It's a good thing because they had to go get him on the practice squad Tuesday after Mason Schreck went to season-ending injured reserve when he became the third tight end lost for the season and the fourth to miss a game.
Forget offensive coordinator Bill Lazor's bevvy of tight end looks that has now shrunk to basically Uzomah and three receivers. But ask Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons what it means to his crew. Cethan Carter never made it to the season and was Simmons' third-leading tackler last season. Uzomah was his second, but he can go nowhere near the kicking game now that he's the No. 1 tight end.
So on comes Franks. If maturity translated to snaps, he'd have a lot more than the five snaps Matt Lengel has as a Bengal and he's now the No. 2 tight end.
"The good thing about Jordan Franks, and every coach in this building has said this about him, you walk in this door, he might beat you in here," said tight ends coach Jonathan Hayes after Wednesday's practice. "That's how early he is. I'm serious. I mean he's here and that's all he knows. He works hard. He's always asking questions. Always trying to learn. He's trying to put it together. And when the light bulb does come on completely, he has a chance to be a really, really good player that can play in this league for a substantial amount of time. If he can stay healthy. The part of being a good teammate and that, he's that already."
The 6-4, 232-pound Franks isn't as big as Eifert (6-6, 255), Uzomah (6-6, 265), Schreck (6-5, 252) and Tyler Kroft (6-6, 260). But he can run all day as a former college wide receiver, not to mention safety and linebacker at Central Florida.
"It's no different than when Mason was up. Jordan runs better than Mason did, but other than that they're similar," Hayes said. "Mason had a year. Last year he got hurt so he got to stay in the weight room, get bigger, stronger, all those things and mature. And a lot of it is that. These guys are still young men. They're not men yet. There's a difference. They're still just becoming men.
"Being a good pro and being a good person, I don't think they're exclusive. If anything it helps you be a better pro if you know how to be a good person. How to humble yourself and he does that. (Franks) knows that. He understands that. Their team (Central Florida) went undefeated last year and he played a part in it. If you go back and watch, he had some wow plays on tape. I think he's got a lot of good things in front of him. He's just eager. You wish all your young guys would take that approach and attack it in that sense."
Hayes has been here before. Remember John Paul Foschi? The Bengals lost Reggie Kelly and Ben Utecht for the year in the 2009 Hard Knocks training camp and they ended up with Foschi, a guy that had just six catches as a rookie in 2005 and no catches in '06 and '08 while not playing in '07. But he helped the Bengals win the '09 AFC North with 27 catches and never made another NFL catch.
"We all know it's a war of attrition in the NFL," Hayes said. "I've still got C.J. I've still got Matt, we brought up the young kid and we're going to go play and they're going to compete and they're going to play well. C.J.'s been playing well all season. I just have to be smart in how many reps I get him now. That's all. That's where we are."
COME TO P.B. MEETING: If you don't think Sunday's 45-10 loss to the Chiefs cut to the core, think again. It's happened before in the Green-Dalton Era and not much was made of Monday's players-only meeting. The guys you thought would talk, did, such as offensive captains A.J. Green and Andy Dalton and nine-year sack artist Carlos Dunlap. But they clearly think it's imperative to have a response to 45-10 and that they believe this team is better than that and that this season is still sizzling.
"We've done it before. It's nothing out of the ordinary," said center Trey Hopkins, who has been here for five seasons. "When you have games that have gone the way they've gone the last couple of weeks, it's not a big secret. We're all about keeping everybody together and getting us back on track. We have a group of great leaders in this locker room. When they have something to say, they make it known. I'm sure nothing was said that hasn't been said already in here to you guys (the media)."
Dalton said his message didn't sound any different than the one he sent in his post-game news conference in the bowels of Arrowhead Stadium.
"We're still in good position at 4-3," Dalton said.
Safety Clayton Fejedelem, one of the five captains and the special teams leader, said it was pretty much business as usual.
"It was in-house. Player to player. We listened to a few players and that was it. It shouldn't be talked about anywhere else," Fejedelem said. "We're underachieving as a group right now. We know we have talent as a team. We know how good we are as a group. Just underachieving. It was brought to attention. Sometimes you don't want to talk about the elephant in the room, but it's as clear as day. We're better than what we've put on tape. It's a player-driven game."