The Bengals ruled two key players out of Sunday's game (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) in Cleveland when starting right end Sam Hubbard (knee) and NFL kick return leader Brandon Wilson (hand) didn't make it to Friday's injury report.
Losing Wilson is a huge blow for a special teams unit ranked No. 1 in the NFL by footballoutsiders.com. Not only is he clinging to the kick return lead, averaging 31.3 yards to the 30.2 for the Bears' Cordarrelle Patterson, but he's also leading Bengals special-teamers with six tackles. Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons also has Wilson covering punts as a gunner, a unit that is tied for fifth in the league.
Next man up in both spots is cornerback Darius Phillips and that's a pretty good man. Before he got hurt in the third game of the season and Wilson inherited the job in the fifth game, Phillips had a kick return called back on a hold and has a long of 37 on six returns this season.
It is the first game Hubbard has missed in his two seasons, although it looks like he can get back next week. But he'll be sorely missed against the Browns' Nick Chubb, the NFL rushing leader, and Kareem Hunt, a Swiss army knife out of the backfield.
Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo has been relying on Hubbard as one of his horses up front. He's played the most snaps of any of his lineman (84 percent with 678 plays) and Anarumo has been dropping him at times as a linebacker in his five-down linemen look that has done well on the early downs in this three-game skein the Bengals are eighth in the league in yards per rush and fifth in points allowed.
On Monday head coach Zac Taylor sounded like he could coax Hubbard and Wilson through the week and have them for Sunday. But after going limited Wednesday and Thursday, Wilson didn't work Friday and Hubbard never made it to the practice field.
Taylor said Friday that rookie Michael Jordan makes his second straight start in Cleveland.
Photos of past matchups between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns.