Pre-Game Hits: Shawn Williams key question; Quiet Hopkins Fills Center 

The Bengals are hoping Shawn Williams answers the bell.
The Bengals are hoping Shawn Williams answers the bell.

KANSAS CITY _ With no update in the injury report over the weekend, starting strong safety Shawn Williams goes into Sunday night's game against the Chiefs still a question mark as he battles a concussion from last week's game against the Steelers.

The Bengals could use Williams' experience. At the moment their nickel package against the explosive Chiefs features Tony McRae and his 70 NFL snaps in the slot in place of the injured Darqueze Dennard and rookie safety Jessie Bates set to make just his seventh NFL start. A Williams' absence would hurt the Bengals on special teams, a key part of this game because of the Chiefs' lethal speed in the kicking game. Clayton Fejedelem, one of the captains because of his play on teams, would replace Williams if he can't go.  

Another passing downs player, SAM linebacker Nick Vigil, is also out. But the Bengals can turn to veteran Vincent Rey in what could be his 49th NFL start. The flip side is he's also a key special teamer and, like Fejedelem, would probably see his work in the kicking game reduced.

As it stands, the Bengals have already ruled out five starters and/or regulars in Vigil (knee), Dennard (shoulder), running back Giovani Bernard (knee, toe), tight end Tyler Kroft (foot) and center Billy Price (foot). The Bengals are hoping Williams doesn't join left tackle Cedric Ogbuehi on the inactive list.

REPORT: BENGALS BACK TEZ: According to Sunday's report on, Bengals president Mike Brown is upset with the NFL fining WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict $112,000 for two hits in last week's game against the Steelers on wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back James Conner.

The report says Brown labelled the fine "unfair and excessive," because no flag appeared on either play. PFT also said Brown doesn't agree with how the league is imposing its safety guidelines because it "hurts the game and makes it less attractive to fans."

According to various web sites, Burfict has lost about $3.5 million in various fines and suspensions for player safety violations.

TREY TERRIFIC: One thing that has been lost since Price went out in the first half of the Baltimore game way back on Sept. 13 is that the Bengals feel like Trey Hopkins has filled in capably at center. Remember, Hopkins made just one snap in a game in college at Texas and here he is snapping amid three straight fourth-quarter comebacks where communication has to be at a premium.

No surprise really in the sense that Hopkins is one of the smartest guys on the club. Still, from a mechanical perspective it's amazing there haven't been the spate of fumbled snaps that dogged all the centers in training camp.  Hopkins occasionally played center in camp and pre-season games, but these last five weeks have been his first games at center that count. That's been quiet.

Hopkins, who lost a camp battle with Alex Redmond at right guard, says he had to make just one adjustment.

"Getting used to the proximity of the defense when you're making the snap," Hopkins said. "It's really tight in there with guys right over you and you've got to make sure your footwork is solid. Andy (Dalton) is really easy to work with. He knows the offense so well."