The Cincinnati Bengals have had issues protecting rookie quarterback Joe Burrow this season.
It’s a challenge that will only get more difficult in the short term as the Bengals begin Week 8 with three injured starters on the offensive line.
Cincinnati (1-5-1) lost starting left tackle Jonah Williams (neck), center Trey Hopkins (concussion) and right tackle Bobby Hart (knee) during Sunday’s 37-34 loss to the visiting Cleveland Browns.
None of the three could be available when the Bengals host the Tennessee Titans (5-1) next weekend, second-year head coach Zac Taylor said Monday.
Williams’ injury was initially thought to be the most serious, but the situation isn’t as dire as first thought. Williams, the 11th overall pick in the 2019 draft out of Alabama, had become the Bengals’ best tackle.
“He’s day-to-day. It looked scary when it first happened but things are starting to look up there,” Taylor said.
Hopkins has been placed in concussion protocol and his status will be re-evaluated on Wednesday. In his sixth season out of Texas, Hopkins has started 44 games over the last four years with Cincinnati.
Hart, meanwhile, suffered his injury late in the fourth quarter. Since signing with the Bengals prior to the 2018 season, Hart has started each of Cincinnati’s 39 games. However, Taylor ruled Hart out for Sunday’s bout with Tennessee.
If all three starters remain sidelined, the Bengals will be exceptionally young on the offensive line against the Titans. Rookie Hakeem Adeniji filled in at left tackle against the Browns, with second-year pro Fred Johnson filling the void at right tackle. Third-year center Billy Price took over for Hopkins in the middle.
Taylor also said running back Joe Mixon (foot) remains “day-to-day” after he sat out the loss to Cleveland. Mixon leads the Bengals with 428 rushing yards and four total touchdowns scored this season.
Through seven games, Cincinnati is tied with the Philadelphia Eagles in allowing an NFL-worst 28 sacks.
–Field Level Media