For the second straight week Bengals backup quarterback AJ McCarron won't have the team's scoring leader when tight end Tyler Eifert was officially ruled out a few hours before the team left Saturday for Monday night's game (8:30-Cincinnati's Channel 5 and ESPN) in Denver.
That means rookie tight end Tyler Kroft, who scored his first NFL TD on a 20-yard pass from McCarron last week, makes his fifth start.
Eifert, leading the league with 12 touchdowns when concussed on a head shot from Steelers safety Mike Mitchell on Dec., 13, ran on the side during Saturday's walk-through on the Paul Brown Stadium field. So did starting safety George Iloka, who hasn't practiced since re-aggravating the injury against the Steelers two weeks ago and was classified as doubtful.
Quarterback Andy Dalton (throwing thumb), ruled out for the second straight week, still had his cast on during the walk-through. Everyone else went full and is probable.
ANOTHER CHALLENEGE: According to Elias, McCarron is trying to become the first quarterback in 18 years to win his first two NFL starts on the road since Danny Kanell did it for the Giants in 1997.
That's good karma. Last week in San Francisco, McCarron became the first University of Alabama quarterback to win an NFL start since Jeff Rutledge did it for the Giants in 1987.
HILL LOSS: The Patriots claimed rookie cornerback Troy Hill after the Bengals released him to make room for veteran cornerback Chris Lewis-Harris. The Bengals have another corner on the practice squad in Asa Jackson, a veteran of six starts and 18 games.
WEATHER UPDATE: The National Weather Service in Wilmington, Ohio has updated its forecast and it's going to be rather chilly at Mile High Monday night. The projection is 18 degrees at kickoff and falling a couple of degrees during the game. Virtually no wind is in the forecast at less than five miles per hour and no snow is predicted. When the Bengals beat the Broncos on Monday night at Paul Brown Stadium last year on Dec. 22, it was 47 degrees.