Bengals head coach Zac Taylor said Thursday what everyone pretty much knew. Wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) won't play Monday night in Pittsburgh (8:20-ESPN, Cincinnati's Channel 5) and said he's not sure when he'll return to practice. He also had no definitive word on left tackle Cordy Glenn (concussion), but Glenn did have on a helmet and did some individual drills with the offensive line in what turned out to be his first practice in six weeks, although it was limited.
The Bengals are walking the thin line at left tackle again. Andre Smith (hamstring) didn't work Thursday.
- So much for coming out of Sunday's game with no significant injuries. A few days after Taylor's day-after declaration, cornerback Darius Phillips went to injured reserve with loose knee cartilage and they had for practice Thursday two brand-new corners on the roster with a combined 42 games since they came into the league undrafted in 2017. They're both on the long and lean side.
UNLV's Torry McTyer, 5-11, 188, plucked from the Chiefs practice squad, had four starts with the Dolphins last season among his 22 games in the NFL after he broke into the league with Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo and corners coach Daronte Jones in Miami two years ago. Iowa's Greg Mabin, 6-2, 200, has played 20 games in the league with one start primarily with the 49ers.
They went heavy at corner even though Taylor thinks slot corner B.W. Webb (forearm) can play Monday after sitting out the Buffalo game. But just in case as they see how the week plays out for Webb. The slot guy behind Tony McRae is probably McTyer in a quick how-do-you-do. Webb went limited Thursday.
- Taylor said he expects left guard Michael Jordan (knee) to be able to play Monday, but wouldn't say if he or Billy Price would start after Price got good reviews in his place. Price, he said, took Thursday's starting reps. He went full Thursday.
- The three defensive linemen that didn't play in Buffalo, Carl Lawson (hamstring), Ryan Glasgow (thigh) and Kerry Wynn (concussion), also didn't work Thursday. Lawson and Wynn were on the rehab field and there was no sign of Glasgow.
- Right end Sam Hubbard (ankle) worked the bike and didn't practice. So did left end Carlos Dunlap (hamstring), but given Taylor's take on injuries earlier in the week, it sounds like they'll play. Same with safety Shawn Williams (back), marked as limited.
- Taylor is approaching his first prime-time game like it is 1 p.m. Sunday. He figures he doesn't have to say a word about it since he knows his players grew up like he did. Begging to stay up to watch the night games. Actually, the first time he remembers asking to stay up past his bed time to watch was when he was nine, which was Super Bowl XXVII and the Cowboys' blowout of the Bills that saw them score 52 points. Taylor's Cowboys would have had more if the Bills' Don Beebe hadn't famously caught a celebrating Leon Lett from behind to force one of the most famous fumbles in Super Bowl history.
The problem was, Taylor had to go to bed at halftime, so he missed it and had to fib to his friends the next day at school that he saw the play. He won't have that problem Monday.
- What a year it's been for Tony McRae since that Pittsburgh game at Paul Brown Stadium nearly 12 months ago. The Bengals' feisty special teamer is now the full-time slot corner with Phillips on IR and Darqueze Dennard on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. He split slot snaps with Phillips in Buffalo and has shown good physicality.
He did give up two first downs against Cole Beasley, but he contained him to just 17 yards on three catches, according to profootballfocus.com, and he says the difference between his play last year at this time and now is "night-and-day." It will be recalled that McRae was the victim of the zero blitz call with ten seconds left that turned into Antonio Brown's winning 30-yard touchdown catch in the 28-21S Steelers win. He was put into a difficult spot and yet he took blame for the loss moments later in the glare of the bright lights in front of his locker. He still did before Thursday's practice.
"As a player, you always look at yourself in the mirror when you lose." McRae said. And it may not be you, or it may be things outside causing a problem, but you always have to look at how you can get better. I lost that play for us. I could have put myself in a different position."
Bur McRae has battled back and that's what Anarumo loves about the guy: "He stays late to work on stuff. He's a gym rat."
McRae also praises Anarumo in their first year of working together and points to him as the reason as his play is day and no longer night. He also points to more reps and experience.
"I've grown a lot as a player," McRae said. "Coach Lou has a lot to do with it, too, honestly. Coach Lou works with me a lot. He's a perfectionist, so he gets on me about everything. All day. Every day."