Damion Willis

Bengals Place Auden Tate On IR

Auden Tate‘s season is officially over. On Tuesday, as expected, the Bengals placed the wide receiver on injured reserve.

Tate suffered an MCL sprain last week and the club had little reason to put him in harms way as the season winds down. The 2018 seventh-round pick, played sparingly during his rookie campaign, but he showed promise this year as the team’s No. 2 WR in A.J. Green‘s stead. In 12 games (ten starts) this season, the 22-year-old has hauled in 40 receptions for 575 yards and one touchdown.

Willis, meanwhile, has nine grabs in ten games this season. The undrafted rookie hopes to cement his place on the Bengals’ 2020 roster, which figures to look drastically different.

The Bengals own the league’s worst record with three games left in the regular season. Unless they pick up wins against the Patriots, Dolphins, and Browns, they’ll pick No. 1 overall in April.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFL Practice Squad Updates: 12/5/19

We’ll keep track of today’s practice squad moves here:

Cincinnati Bengals

Detroit Lions

Kansas City Chiefs

Houston Texans

New York Giants

Oakland Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Redskins

Bengals Activate John Ross

The Bengals have their first win and their former first-round wide receiver back in action. On Tuesday, they officially activated wide receiver John Ross off of the injured reserve list. 

Ross has been out since injuring his sternoclavicular joint in Week 4. Last month, they designated him for return, opening up a multi-week practice window. Now that Ross has been brought back within that timeframe, he’ll be eligible to play again in 2019.

Ross, the No. 9 overall pick in 2017, was written off by many as a bust, but showed some signs of life early on this year. Injuries and a lack of trust from Marvin Lewis had plagued Ross’ first two years in Cincy, but he started the season with 16 catches for 328 yards and three touchdowns in four games.

There’s now reason to believe that Ross could blossom into the top-level deep threat the Bengals were hoping for back in 2017. This is, of course, a lost season for the Bengals, but it’s a ripe opportunity for Ross to work his way back from his shoulder injury and cement his place in the team’s plans moving forward.

The Bengals figure to make lots of changes this offseason, but Ross figures to be an integral part of the offense in 2020. He remains under his rookie deal, which runs through 2020. He’ll carry a $5.45MM cap number in his final year, but the Bengals can add a fifth season via his rookie option.

To make room for Ross, the team waived rookie wide receiver Damion Willis for the second time this year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Bengals To Place Dre Kirkpatrick On IR

The Bengals have placed Dre Kirkpatrick on injured reserve, per a club announcement. In related moves, the team promoted linebacker Hardy Nickerson and wide receiver Damion Willis to the active roster. 

Kirkpatrick, 30, is in the midst of a five-year, $52.5MM deal he inked back in 2017. He’ll remain on the books for 2020, when he’s due a base salary of $9.4MM. Before he season-ending hyperextended knee injury, Kirkpatrick tallied 33 stops, one sack, and one fumble recovery across six games.

Last year, Kirkpatrick allowed just 44.4% of the targets thrown his way to be caught, good for the second-best rate in the league. That was good for second amongst all NFL cornerbacks with at least 400 coverage snaps.

The Bengals were hoping to get him back before the end of the season but, then again, they’re not playing for much at this point.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Minor NFL Transactions: 10/23/19

Here are today’s minor transactions:

Cincinnati Bengals

Denver Broncos

  • Claimed: DL Jonathan Harris (from Bears)

Detroit Lions

Houston Texas

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Bengals Notes: Price, Green, Dennard, QBs

After losing starters Clint Boling and Jonah Williams this offseason, the Bengals will have another new first-stringer up front. They are set to bench center Billy Price, a 2018 first-round pick, for veteran Trey Hopkins, Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic tweets. This marks a setback in Price’s development. The Ohio State alum struggled as a rookie, playing in only 10 games and grading as Pro Football Focus’ fourth-worst full-time center. A sixth-year UDFA who has made 21 Bengals starts over the past two seasons, Hopkins fared better in 589 snaps in 2018. He graded as PFF’s No. 21 snapper and will parlay that into a Week 1 job.

Additionally, Price’s former Ohio State teammate, fourth-round rookie guard Michael Jordan, will be Cincinnati’s left guard starter. Should an injury befall Hopkins, Jordan or starting left guard John Miller, Dehner adds (via Twitter) Price will return to center.

Here is the latest out of southwest Ohio:

  • Darqueze Dennard is expected to begin the season on the Bengals’ reserve/PUP list, according to Geoff Hobson of the team’s website. The recently re-signed cornerback underwent knee surgery before re-upping with the Bengals. While the team knew Dennard would need surgery after re-signing him, it is certainly a bad sign when a player on a one-year deal will be out at least six regular-season games. Dennard signed for $4.5MM in March.
  • A.J. Green will join Dennard in being out for the start of the season, and it’s uncertain when the perennial Pro Bowl wideout will return. But Hobson adds the Bengals will still attempt to extend Green, who is entering his age-31 season. The Bengals already extended Tyler Boyd. Earlier this offseason, Green expressed a desire to stay in Cincinnati after his 2019 contract year. But that was before he suffered an ankle injury that is expected to keep him out of multiple September games.
  • While Green recovers, a rookie UDFA will take his place. Damion Willis will start alongside Boyd, Zac Taylor said (via Dehner, on Twitter). Willis was part of Cincinnati’s initial post-draft free agent class, signing with the team out of Troy. He has certainly enjoyed a standout preseason.
  • Ryan Finley has commandeered the Bengals’ backup job, and the Cincinnati Enquirer’s Tyler Dragon expects this to push Jeff Driskel off the roster. Driskel has run into hamstring trouble and was making an attempt to show versatility by lining up at wide receiver recently. The former sixth-round pick started five games last season.

Bengals Sign 10 Undrafted Free Agents

The Bengals are the latest NFL team to announce their crop of undrafted college free agents. Cincinnati has agreed to sign the following 10 players:

Morgan is probably the most interesting name on the list, as many prognosticators believed he could come off the board at some point on Day 3. Over his final two seasons at Nebraska, Morgan averaged 995 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. The Bengals didn’t add a wide receiver with any of their 10 draft picks, so Morgan has a good shot to compete with the likes of Cody Core and Auden Tate for the fifth receiver role on Cincinnati’s roster.