By Curt Macysyn

Unlike most of their counterparts who were busy making coaching changes this week, the teams that have made it to the NFL post-season party cannot get involved with making excuses, especially excuses that involve the injury report. Quite frankly, no one cares how many players you have on the injured reserve list, it is all about advancing to the next game. There are no moral victories, just the quest for The Lombardi Trophy.

With that in mind, no one will see an asterisk next to the outcome of the Steelers – Bengals playoff match-up that states, “starting quarterback injured.” Thankfully, other than the broken thumb sustained by Andy Dalton in mid-December, there do not appear to be any major setbacks for the Bengals this week. 

One area that has been addressed for the Bengals heading into the Wild Card game on Saturday is defensive tackle Brandon Thompson, who had already been declared out of the contest with a knee injury. The Bengals reported on Thursday that Thompson was placed on the injured reserve list, and they signed DeShawn Williams from the practice squad to active roster to replace Thompson.

As for Dalton, he did not practice again on Thursday, further dousing the conspiracy theorists thoughts that coach Marvin Lewis was sending out a smoke screen earlier this week about Dalton. A.J. McCarron will be the starter at quarterback against the Steelers, and he will have a full amount of preparation for whatever the Steel Curtain throws at him.  

According to the Centre Daily Times, “Dalton had a wrap on his right hand Thursday and was held out of practice again. He was hoping to be active as a backup for the playoff game, but the Bengals backed him off his workouts after only one day this week, an indication he’s not even close to being ready. Keith Wenning, who was promoted from the practice squad Dec. 16, is McCarron’s backup.”

Tight end Ryan Hewitt is still nursing a knee injury that kept him out of last week’s season finale against the Baltimore Ravens, and he was unable to practice on Wednesday and Thursday. Rookie Tyler Kroft (Rutgers) played in all sixteen games for the Bengals this season with six starts, and he got the start last week in place of Hewitt against the Ravens.

Leon Hall shows up on the injury report with a back issue that has plagued him all season, but he also apparently had a concussion at some point. But Hall never showed up in the NFL concussion protocol after the Ravens’ game, and he has practiced fully this week.

Probable:
Leon Hall, CB (Concussion/Back)

Out:
Andy Dalton, QB (Thumb)
Ryan Hewitt, TE (Knee)
Brandon Thompson, DT (IR/Knee)

Curt Macysyn has been covering the New York Football Giants for the past four seasons for Examiner.com, and he is a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA). Born and raised in New Jersey, Curt attended Seton Hall Prep School in South Orange, N.J. and is a graduate of Rutgers University – New Brunswick. Follow him on Twitter @CurtMac23 for the latest NFL and New York Giants news.

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