Cincinnati will host the Ravens in the Wild Card round of the playoffs this weekend, but they will have to do it without two of their starters on the offensive line, according to Mitch Stacy of The Associated Press. Head coach Zac Taylor confirmed that right guard Alex Cappa will join right tackle La’el Collins on the sideline this Sunday night.
Cappa had his ankle rolled over late in the third quarter last week while blocking in the pocket. Initial fears were that the injury would end his season, keeping him out for the entirety of the playoffs, and while Taylor is holding out hope for future games this January, we know that Cappa will not play this weekend.
Cappa joins Collins, who saw his season come to an end after suffering a knee injury in a Week 16 win over the Patriots. Collins has been replaced by Hakeem Adeniji who played in a backup role this season after starting 13 games last year. Adeniji drew criticism for his pass protection in the playoffs last season, when the offensive line drew most of the blame for the team’s loss in Super Bowl LVI.
Cappa will be replaced by backup Max Scharping. After starting 33 games in his first three seasons with the Texans, Scharping was picked up by the Bengals after being waived just prior to the season. The offensive line was a huge weakness last year for a Bengals team that still made it to the Super Bowl. They may have to struggle over that hurdle once again if they want to win it all in February.
Here are a couple other injury rumors from around the AFC, starting with another playoff squad:
- If the Bengals’ offensive line situation is considered bad, the Dolphins‘ has to be considered downright tragic as the team practiced today without three starters and three backups on the offensive line alone, according to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald. Starting left guard Liam Eichenberg missed today as he deals with a hand injury. After that, the remaining five linemen who missed practice are the team’s top five tackles. First, tackles Austin Jackson and Eric Fisher remain on injured reserve with an ankle and calf injury, respectively. Jackson is eligible to return from IR but isn’t quite ready to, while Fisher is not yet eligible to return. Right tackle Brandon Shell is dealing with a high ankle sprain and mild knee sprain and is likely going to be out this weekend in Buffalo. Kendall Lamm has been dealing with an ankle issue and is questionable to play on Sunday. Lastly, left tackle Terron Armstead missed practice as he deals with multiple ailments including injuries to his hip, foot, knee, and pectoral muscle, according to Jackson. Not one to be subdued by pain, Armstead told Jackson that as long as his muscles function, he’ll be playing against the Bills. Potential backup options include Greg Little and starting right guard Robert Hunt, with Robert Jones filling in the guard spot. Geron Christian, Michael Dieter, and practice squad linemen should all be ready to hear their names called, as well.
- Colts star linebacker Shaquille Leonard missed most of the season this year as he dealt with a nerve issue that has limited the use of his left calf. Leonard had back surgery to the address the issue in June but never saw the results he’d hoped for. Leonard and Indianapolis staff found it necessary to undergo a second surgery and, according to Joel A. Erickson of the Indy Star, it seems to have been much more effective. Leonard told Erickson that, after the second surgery, “the nerves are re-firing in his leg…in a way that didn’t happen after the first surgery.” Leonard is one of the premier players at his position, so signs that he is starting to progress back to his old self are welcome signs, for sure.