That's because there is a chance that after appearing to come out of last week's game at Baltimore injury-free, they could actually be without a pair of key players Sunday afternoon.
For the second straight day, offensive guard Kevin Zeitler and veteran cornerback Chris Crocker missed practice Thursday while nursing injuries. Zeitler, for now, appears to be the one most likely to miss the in-state, AFC North showdown. Since Monday, he has been seen wearing a boot and walking on crutches through the Bengals' locker room. Officially, he has been diagnosed with a foot injury.
Crocker, meanwhile, hasn't needed to move around with any aids, but he has been listed with a hamstring injury. Although he did not participate in Wednesday or Thursday's workouts, he still stands a chance to go Friday.
If Zeitler is unable to play Sunday, he likely will be replaced at right guard by left guard Clint Boling. To account for the vacancy at Boling's spot, the Bengals then may move left tackle Andrew Whitworth to the left guard spot, and bring Anthony Collins off the bench to play left tackle. If the Bengals decide not to go that route, they could simply replace Zeitler with backup Mike Pollack, who has been healthy in recent weeks after dealing much of the first half of the year with a knee injury.
Zeitler's injury, if serious enough to make him inactive, could lead to backup offensive guard Tanner Hawkinson being activated to the 53-man roster. Since Pollack's return, he and fellow lineman Trevor Robinson haven't seen much action.
To account for the possible injury to Crocker, the Bengals would probably move backup cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick into the nickel spot that Crocker normally plays.
While Crocker and Zeitler were absent Thursday, the Bengals did have linebacker Vontaze Burfict (knee), center Kyle Cook (shoulder) and defensive tackle Brandon Thompson (ankle) back. The three all missed Wednesday's workout. Thompson even missed it while sporting a hard boot around a foot.
Here's the Bengals' full Thursday injury report:
Did Not Practice
LB Rey Maualuga (knee)
DT Devon Still (elbow)
CB Chris Crocker (hamstring)
OG Kevin Zeitler (foot)
Limited Practice Participation
LB Vontaze Burfict (knee)
C Kyle Cook (shoulder)
DT Brandon Thompson (ankle)
LB Michael Boley (hamstring)
CB Terence Newman (ankle)
Full Practice Participation
TE Jermaine Gresham (groin)