The Bengals defense keeps taking shots, particularly at tackle, and now they also won't have a regular passing down linebacker in Logan Wilson (ruled out with a concussion) and probably not slot cornerback Mackensie Alexander (hamstring/ribs) for Sunday's game (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's-Local 12) at Paul Brown Stadium against the Jaguars.
Eight-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins (shoulder) went limited Friday but like every game this season he was ruled out. The defensive tackles have been haunted since July and what happened to Mike Daniels Thursday at practice is living proof.
After struggling with a groin injury in the opener and playing through it for 31 percent of the snaps in Philadelphia last Sunday, an ebullient Daniels Zoomed the media before Thursday's practice and pronounced himself as fit as he's been signing with the Bengals on the eve of training camp in August.
I feel way better, way better. I feel really good," Daniels said. "I'm just getting in from the walk-through. You guys will see me at practice kind of being my typical self. But I feel good, man. I feel good. … Whatever my team needed me to do. I made sure I was available. I made sure I was out there to affect the game in the ways that I could. Now, I feel a lot better. I feel a lot better."
Then he went out and injured his elbow and it's believed it could take anywhere between three to eight weeks to heal. Talk about a devastating blow.
Signing Daniels was a mini-coup in early camp in the wake of Josh Tupou's opt-out and Ryan Glasgow's failed physical. It turned out to be a godsend when Renell Wren went down for the year early in camp and then Atkins got hurt 10 days before the opener in camp's final scrimmage.
In Daniels they got a battle-tested nine-year player who had been to a Pro Bowl and been voted to three top 100 teams. A good leader and locker-room guy, at 31 he was just the right age.
But now they may have to go get a guy with some skins on the wall because all they have behind D.J. Reader and Christian Covington are developmental kids. And now they're glad on cut down day they traded for Covington, a six-year journeyman who has given them some experienced snaps.
But they've activated a tackle from the practice squad the day before each game with Amani Bledsoe and converted guard Kahlil McKenzie making their NFL debuts and Freedom Akinmoladun making his third NFL appearance before going back to the practice squad.
When Daniels missed the Cleveland game, Reader couldn't fend off the hordes as the Bengals rushed for 215 yards.
SIMS ANSWERS: Last Sunday the Bengals cashed their chips with Las Vegas native LeShaun Sims, the back-up cornerback they signed from the Titans back in March. He really should have got a game ball in his Bengals debut. His fourth-quarter interception of a wayward throw to the back shoulder of Eagles tight end Zach Ertz put them at their own 44 and should have been enough to put away Philly. After his first 19 Bengals snaps Pro Football Focus made Sims the team's highest graded defensive player.
He may get even more time this Sunday with Alexander doubtful in the slot. That would most likely move Darius Phillips into the slot and Sims on to the field.
Sims missed a chuck of the latter half of training camp dealing with family issues that he prefers not to discuss and was inactive for the opener before being active for the second game and not playing.
"It felt good to throw on a Bengals uniform and get some snaps," Sims said he described his first interception since 2017. "I was able to get myself in decent position and get my head around and the ball was right there and I able to make a play on the ball."
Don't discount that after just 17 interceptions from their cornerbacks since 2016. This is what Bengals cornerbacks coach Steve Jackson saw from him when he was in Tennessee and the Titans drafted him in the fifth round out of Southern Utah four years ago.
Jackson likes his size (6-0, 203 pounds) and he thinks he's a small-school guy that has yet reach his potential. He started 11 of his 56 games in Tennessee, where he was a jack of all trades. During the Titans' three post-season games last season, all of his snaps came on special teams.
"That interception (third of Sims' NFL career) shows you the kind of player he is," Jackson said. "He's reliable. He'll be in the right spot for you. He can cover tight ends and wide receivers. He'll do whatever you ask."
Sims didn't take any plays in the kicking game last Sunday and he may not again if the Alexander injury dictates a heavy role. He's a family guy who knows what being there for somebody means.
"That's the most important thing. Being around the family," Sims said, "That's a big thing about this league. You have to be reliable. You to know your assignments, you have to know your calls. When your number's called, you have to produce. In this league, that's the way it is with every depth chart. Guys get hurt. The more you can do."
ROSS UP OR DOWN?: Head coach Zac Taylor wasn't giving any hints. Would wide receiver John Ross be inactive for the second straight week? All Taylor said is he liked the way Ross handled Sunday's deactivation and thought he brought a good attitude to practice.