Time to remember why the Bengals signed Xavier Su'a-Filo back in March as he returned to the active list Wednesday.
He started Opening Day, broke his ankle, and three other guys have started at right guard since. With Alex Redmond not practicing Wednesday with a concussion and Quinton Spain starting the last game at left guard, here's the refresher on Su-a'-Filo:
First pick in the second round in 2014 by the Texans out of UCLA. Consistent. Tough. Smart. Reliable. Did we say consistent, the one thing this offensive line has been pursuing in performance as well as lineups?
Even though he's been out for so long (Su'a-Filo also wasn't on the field right away in training camp, either, as he recovered from last year's broken leg. We said tough, right?), he has served as a mentor for a group that is in the throes of a youth movement.
"We are one of the only positions on the field all five guys have to be on the same page and we have to be unified. It's never perfect," Su'a-Filo said before Wednesday's practice. "I just think especially inside there are bigger guys inside. At guard you have to be ready to take the fight to those D-tackles sooner and tackle is a little bit different. In general, as an O-line we've had to shuffle and guys have had to play different positions and step up and all that.
"That's really typical in an NFL season, especially with different teams and I've been on different teams when we've done that. So, trying to get some continuity there amongst the players and we all have a good relationship. I've been trying to make sure since I haven't been out there that I am trying to maintain that."
TATE TO IR: Remember when the Bengals were so deep at wide receiver? Well Auden Tate (shoulder) looks to be lost for the year after getting hurt against the Giants last Sunday and joined John Ross III (foot) on injured reserve.
After catching 40 balls in a breakout year last season, Tate had just 14 catches with A.J. Green and Tee Higgins joining the fray. It's the second straight season he's ended the year on IR, but he remains a key guy for Bengals head coach Zac Taylor.
"Auden is one of those guys that you've come to appreciate over my two years here. He never complains," Taylor said before practice Wednesday. "He's willing to do anything it takes. "Special teams, offense, running game, pass game, protection. You just know he's going to be dependable. He's going to make the play when it comes to him. He's just going to do whatever you ask him to do. He's been a valuable player for us in a lot of ways. It's tough to put anybody on IR, but Auden has fought through a lot and it's just to the point where we have to put him on IR."
Meanwhile, Higgins is on pace for a Bengals rookie-record 69 catches and slot receiver Tyler Boyd remains on pace for 1,000 yards.
ALLEN-JOE: Before Joe Burrow jetted to Los Angeles for knee surgery, he offered some advice to his replacement. Even before Burrow went down, Brandon Allen took notes.
"I think one thing about Joe is you always knew where he was going to go with the football, he was going to make the right decision," Allen said before Wednesday's practice. "He was going to see the defense the right way and get us in the best possible chance to win … He was playing at a high level doing that and I think when he gets back he will continue to do that. "
ISOLATION BOOTH: On the Sunday the Broncos paid the ultimate NFL price (a loss) for not being careful enough with their quarterbacks and COVID, the Bengals started Allen in what was his first appearance at a game all year.
Now welcome journeyman Kevin Hogan to another start. Hogan replaces Allen as the practice squad quarterback and while Taylor needs to get Hogan into the offense as quickly as possible, he also knows he's a couple of positive tests away from starting Boyd or wide receiver Alex Erickson at quarterback.
"He still needs to see the system up close and personal because you just never know," Taylor said. "We've seen what can happen around the league. He'll be at practice and he'll be wearing the helmet. He'll be at a pretty safe distance away from the rest of the guys. But that way, he'll kind of hear the way I talk, hear how the system sounds and looks.
"But at the same time, he'll stay wherever he is at, a hotel I guess, for most of the day until practice starts. We have to be smart with positions like that. Keep guys distant from everybody else and still find a way for them to get some work done, so they can keep sharpening their skills."
INJURY UPDATE: Safety Brandon Wilson, Sunday's 103-yard Man, didn't practice Wednesday with a hamstring issue.
And why not? Along with the kick return, he made the tackle on the opening kickoff, forced a couple of fair catches on punt coverage and played 13 snaps on defense.
Cornerback Darius Phillips (groin) returned to practice Wednesday, didn't appear on Wednesday's injury report and Taylor said he could be available Sunday. Phillips can practice with the team without counting against the active roster and is eligible to be activated at any point.