That sigh exhaling across Bengaldom turned out to be slot cornerback Leon Hall walking out to practice in his uniform Thursday morning.
More good news bubbled when starting tight end and NFL TD leader Tyler Eifert (pinched nerve in neck) went to the practice field after being limited Wednesday and was upgraded to full on Thursday.
But a few minutes later starting cornerback Adam Jones could be seen wheeling through a Paul Brown Stadium hallway with his foot still in a cast, seemingly still nowhere near playing Sunday against the Steelers (1 p.m.-Cincinnati's Channel 12) at sold-out Paul Brown Stadium.
Hall (back) missed last week's game in Cleveland and Thursday marked his first return to action since he was limited in last Friday's walk-through. He was also limited Thursday, but even if Hall gets through Thursday's work, they probably still have to activate a fifth cornerback with Jones looking to be out , backup slot corner Darqueze Dennard already on injured reserve, and Hall's back balky.
The Bengals have a choice between one of their reserves that has played 17 games for them during the past four seasons, Chris Lewis-Harris, or a former Raven of 18 NFL games that they signed last week, Asa Jackson. They'd probably go with Lewis-Harris because he's more familiar with the scheme on defense and special teams.
The bigger question is who they cut to make room for that fifth corner, particularly since every player is subject to waivers at this point in the season. Or maybe Hall comes through with flying colors and they feel good going with four corners, two of them rookies Josh Shaw and Troy Hill.
Complicating matters is that safety George Iloka (groin) didn't work Thursday for the second straight day and it looks like he'll miss his second straight game. Also in sweats and not working was WILL backer Vontaze Burfict (knee), but he played last Sunday after going limited Thursday and this Thursday's injury report said the move was not related to injury, suggesting it was merely a rest day.
Joining Eifert going full Thursday after being limited Wednesday were starting left guard Clint Boling (neck), starting cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) and starting fullback Ryan Hewitt (knee).
Backup right tackle Jake Fisher picked up a concussion at some point and was listed as limited Thursday after going full Wednesday.