Washington head coach Ron Rivera has seen this all before Sunday (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Local 12) when his prized rookie pass rusher Chase Young takes on Bengals franchise rookie quarterback Joe Burrow at FedEx Field.
In an alternate universe it could have been the other way around. But only if the Bengals took Young number one back in April's draft and that wasn't happening and so Washington gladly grabbed Ohio State's Young. The Bengals, as we know, never wavered.
But Rivera, a defensive guru who broke into the league as a linebacker on the legendary Bears defenses of the '80s (taken in the second round of the 1984 draft by Bengals scout Bill Tobin when he ran the Bears) was tempted plenty by Burrow.
"He was the obvious choice for us," Rivera said of Young on Wednesday's conference call with the Cincy media. "We feel championships are won by playing good defense.
"We think Joe is the full package. We really do. We think Chase is the full package. Depending on what Cincinnati did, that's what we were going to do. The opposite. We didn't think we would lose out either way. We really didn't. We think both players are going to be great players and have great careers and we're fired up that we have Chase."
INJURY UPDATES: Other than running back Joe Mixon, who didn't practice for the fifth straight Wednesday with his foot issue, head coach Zac Taylor felt pretty good about his injured guys being ready for Washington.
Left tackle Jonah Williams went full Wednesday for the first time since getting a stinger three weeks ago against Cleveland. Right tackle Bobby Hart (knee) who got hurt on one of the last snaps of that game, returned to the field for the first time Wednesday and was limited.
Also limited were starting cornerbacks Mackensie Alexander and LeShaun Sims after suffering concussions, Alexander during last Sunday's game and Sims last week in practice.
Two defensive starters, safety Jessie Bates III and linebacker Germaine Pratt, were cleared of a close Covid contact and Bates made it back for the second half of practice while Pratt missed all of it.
Also limited were right guard Alex Redmond (bicep) and defensive tackle Xavier Williams (back). Defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who missed last week because of personal reasons, was also out Wednesday while wide receiver A.J. Green and defensive tackle Mike Daniels got veteran rest days.
O-LINE LINEUP: It looks like Taylor is going to have his tackles back. But as he proved last week, he's not going to tell you Wednesday how he is lining up Sunday against Chase Young. He knows full well that rookie Hakeem Adeniji played well for Jonah Williams and transplanted guard Quinton Spain held the fort last Sunday against the Steelers for Hart and his backup Fred Johnson.
But Taylor realizes that the adversity has given them a lot more depth. Certainly more than they had last month.
"They're not easy decisions you've got to make. There are a lot of things to weigh that we weigh internally as we grade these guys and decide what the chemistry looks like, but it's a good problem to have," Taylor said before Wednesday's practice. "Guys that have gotten their opportunities have made the most of it. It's a problem if it's the other way around. If you throw guys in there and they're not playing well it they make your decision a lot easier.
"So these guys who have all gotten opportunities are making the decision hard and the guys who were injured in the last 2-3 weeks were starting to play. Their potential was starting to work their way up. Good problem to have. It's just something we've got to sort through as coaches."
MIKE JUST FINE: After missing Tennessee with what he called colitis on the morning of the game, Bengals left guard Michael Jordan slept through it on TV. But when he saw it on film he realized what a stand-out game veteran Quinton Spain played in his place despite being in Paul Brown Stadium all of two days.
"I try to learn from all the older guys who were there longer than I have and know the game more," said Jordan, set to make his 22nd start in his second season. "Quinton Spain just got here and giving me tips on how to go against Cam Heyward and any guy I ask about going forward."
Then two weeks later Jordan saw Spain switch to right tackle for the first time in his career and in his 67th NFL start he had an impressive hold-your-own against the Steelers' No. 1 pass rush.
"They're both impressive. Honestly. I thought he did a tremendous job at right tackle as well," Jordan said of Spain's first two Bengals games. "Quinton Spain knows defenses. He knows the playbook and knows how to react to different defenses and what they're doing. He's just an impressive guy to be around."
Like he said, Spain helped him against the Steelers' Heyward in what was a big measuring stick game for Jordan. Remember, last year's game in Pittsburgh was just his fourth NFL start and he ended up getting benched for a month before putting together a strong finish to his rookie year.
And last Sunday in his return he helped keep the dangerous Heyward relatively in check. Pro Football Focus had Heyward for six pressures, but no sacks and two QB hits. Compare that to last season in Pittsburgh, when three of Heyward's four pressures were sacks. That night they ran for 73 yards. On Sunday it was for 139, their most yards on the ground against the Steelers in 19 seasons, according to profootballreference.com.
"From my rookie year to now I feel like I've done a lot better going against Cam Heyward," Jordan said. "That's another great player and another guy who is very strong and also good with his hands as well. I prepared accordingly. In order to show my respect for him I went as hard as I possibly could."
MUCH RESPECT: Before Wednesday's practice middle linebacker Josh Bynes media Zoomed and he offered a faint smile when he realized he's faced Alex Smith when Smith quarterbacked the 49ers and the Chiefs.
Now it is Washington and at 36 and everyone's Comeback Player of the Year, Smith is coming off the best game of his career in which he completed 69 percent of his 55 passes for 390 yards against Detroit.
He's turned that horrific broken leg of a few years back from a career-ender into an inspiration.
"He's just definitely an awesome quarterback and the story he's creating is just amazing, and, you know, hats off to him," Bynes said. "He's still Alex Smith. He's definitely, you could tell obviously in the last game, though they didn't start off that great, but obviously they turned it around and had the comeback going against Detroit. And, like I said, it's just like as resilient as he's come with his injury, he just showed that he can definitely, that second half of the game, change the game for them.
"He's definitely got some good mobility in the pocket, and he's escaped it a few times as well in the pocket. He doesn't have, you know, that elite takeover as far as speed and everything he had before, but that's going to come when it does come, and what he did against Detroit still shows he's a really good quarterback."
SLANTS AND SCREENS: Wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell was not at practice Wednesday because of COVID-related issues and it's not clear if he'll be in Washington Sunday.
Practice squad safety Trayvon Henderson, who played in the first two games, went on the Covid list Wednesday. So did practice squad defensive tackle Freedom Akinmoladun, who played in two of the first four games.
According to various reports, the NFL has put intensive Covid protocols in place for the rest of the season. The Bengals have been there for more than a week and so they'll continue to have all meetings via computer and everyone must wear masks at all times in the building and on the practice field. And there continues to be an edict barring gatherings of players or team employees away from the facility.