CINCINNATI -- Days after Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer hinted that defensive end Margus Hunt's time as a "redshirt may be over," the rookie lineman was placed on Cincinnati's inactive list for the third straight week.
A foreign-born player originally from Estonia, Hunt played just four years of football before getting selected by the Bengals in the second round of this year's draft. The plan has been to go easy on bringing Hunt along, slowly getting him more acclimated with NFL terminology and the pro style of playing the important pass-rush position.
It seemed all of that was going to change this week after the Bengals announced that 10-year veteran defensive end Robert Geathers was lost for the year with a season-ending elbow injury that he picked up in Monday night's 20-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Geathers was mostly used as a reserve in Cincinnati's deep defensive line rotation. In addition to Hunt, Wallace Gilberry has been used as a backup at end behind starters Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson. Gilberry participated fully in practice Friday, but he battled this week through a knee injury.
With news of Hunt's inactivity, don't be surprised if outside linebacker James Harrison drops down to the line of scrimmage on occasion as a rush end. With the Packers expected to pass often, the Bengals' secondary figures to be in a nickel defense fairly regularly. Typically when they go into the nickel, the Bengals have to sacrifice Harrison's presence as they try to get linebackers with better coverage skills on the field. Pittsburgh passed so much last week that Harrison took only 14 snaps against his former team. A move to the line could get him on the field more often.
Here are the full inactives lists for the Bengals and Packers: