With all eyes on Georgia Tuesday night, Atlanta resident Willie Anderson hopes to get some good news an hour before the polls close when the Pro Football Hall of Fame announces it 15 modern era finalists for the shrine's Class of 2021.
Anderson, the Bengals all-time right tackle whose 181 games is the most of any Cincinnati offensive linemen except Hall of Fame left tackle Anthony Munoz, gets the news when NFL Network unveils the list at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Anderson, 45, who retired after 13 seasons at the end of the 2008 season, could become the first Bengals' finalist since Munoz went in on his first try on a 1998 ballot that included all-time passing leader Ken Anderson.
Wide receiver Terrell Owens, elected in 2017, played only the last of his 15 seasons in Cincinnati. Wide receiver Charlie Joiner, who played in Paul Brown's last 39 games as Bengals head coach before playing 164 for the Chargers, was elected in 1996.
That was the same year that Ken Anderson made his first of two appearances as a modern era finalist, defined as players retired less than 25 years. Anderson and Bengals interceptions leader Ken Riley, fifth on the all-time list, were among finalists for this year's Hall senior candidate, chosen from a field players retired longer than 25 years. Former Cowboys receiver Drew Pearson got that nod and he'll join this year's 15 modern era finalists that need 80 percent of the vote for induction.
INJURY UPDATE: As if the Bengals offense wasn't crippled by enough by injury, there was one cruel twist of fate waiting in the second half of the finale when center Trey Hopkins, their most consistent offensive lineman and brains of the outfit, tore his ACL. Given that training camp is less than eight months away, it's going to be tough for them to plan on Hopkins being ready for Opening Day, although he could get back and he'll no doubt give it a Herculean try.
Back-up Billy Price got a game ball when he replaced Hopkins in the Nov. 1 win over Tennessee and at the moment is the on-the-roster option. According to multiple reports, the Bengals are going to get a new offensive line coach after a season the line had 10 different starting combos.
As for the most scrutinized rehab, quarterback Joe Burrow is expected next week at Paul Brown Stadium to continue the work on reconstructed knee. It sounds like he'll have plenty of company with guys like running back Joe Mixon (foot) and tight end C.J. Uzomah (Achilles). Uzomah tore his Achilles about a half-hour after catching Burrow's first touchdown pass in the second game of the season. He says he's close and is already jogging with the doctors telling him he's ahead of schedule.
KICK CALL: Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons isn't kicking the can down the road, but he hasn't made up his mind on the Randy Bullock-Austin Seibert kicking derby. "It's cloudy," said Simmons, who replaced the veteran Bullock with the second-year Seibert with four games left.
He agrees that Bullock was doing pretty well until he missed three of his last five, and although two were from 53 and beyond, he said, "We were at the point in our season we wanted to see what Austin could do kicking in a game I coach."
Seibert was six of eight on field goals with a long of 48 and misses from 55 and 48.
"It was a mixed bag," Simmons said. "We'll continue to look at it."