The most glaring part of the injury report, however, may be who is missing from it. Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green returned last week after missing the prior three games with a toe injury.
Green's snaps were limited, but he still managed to find the end zone. More importantly, he emerged from the game without any setbacks and expects to see more playing time Thursday night.
Here are the latest projections heading into the Thursday game:
Giovanni Bernard, RB, hip (D): Coach Marvin Lewis said in a SiriusXM NFL appearance Thursday that Bernard is officially out for the game. This comes as no great surprise, given that the team listed him as doubtful on Wednesday’s injury report. Even before the formal designation, it wasn’t looking as if Bernard had much chance of suiting up. He missed Week 9 with a hip injury after not practicing all week and has yet to return to the practice field.
Bernard has been banged up throughout the first half of the season, fighting hip and clavicle injuries recently as well as bruised ribs along the way. With 10 days between now and their next matchup (against the New Orleans Saints), the Bengals’ hope is that Bernard will be able to make his return at that time, but it is not a lock. In the meantime, it will be more of the Jeremy Hill show.
Jermaine Gresham, TE, knee (P): Gresham’s status is not really in doubt given the probable tag, but his level of involvement might be. His practice this week consisted of a limited outing Wednesday, but it was enough to suggest that he could face game action one day later. His production -- including his targets -- has been up in recent weeks, but with Green’s increased presence, Gresham's role could change. Still, he remains an option as long as he is on the field, which is expected to be the case Thursday night.
Jordan Cameron, TE, concussion (out): Cameron has not yet been cleared to return to practice since suffering a concussion in Week 8. All concussions are concerning, but this one is even more so because it is Cameron’s third in three years. He will need to progress his way through the team’s concussion protocol and will be evaluated on an ongoing basis. This will be Cameron’s third missed game this season; he missed one game early in the season due to an AC sprain suffered in the preseason. While Cameron is out, tight end duties will continue to be handled by Gary Barnidge and Jim Dray.
Andrew Hawkins, WR, thigh/knee (Q): After not practicing Monday or Tuesday due to a thigh and knee injury, it initially appeared Hawkins was set to sit this one out. But he was able to turn in a limited practice Wednesday, leaving the door open for him to play against his former team. Hawkins was injured on the first play of the second half of Sunday’s game against the Buccaneers on a hard tackle and caught only one pass thereafter. He has been quarterback Brian Hoyer's favorite target, perhaps even more so with all of Cameron’s missed time due to injury and the continued absence of Josh Gordon via suspension.
With only four days between games, the challenge for Hawkins will be balancing whether he can be effective with the risk of further injury should he play. Coach Mike Pettine said Hawkins would be a game-time decision, likely dependent on how he responds to Wednesday’s practice and how he functions in warm-ups, so fantasy owners will want to check the pregame inactives. It is worth noting that Hoyer found Hawkins’ teammate Taylor Gabriel for five catches and a score last week. Gabriel is listed as probable with a shoulder injury, but he practiced in full each day and is expected to play.
Brian Hoyer, QB, glute (P): Despite Hoyer’s presence on the injury report with a strained glute, he has been able to put in full practices throughout the week leading up to Thursday’s game. If Hoyer were a super mobile quarterback, his injury might be more worrisome, but as long as he can move well enough to protect himself (especially considering he is coming off ACL surgery), then he should be fine, just as the probable tag indicates.