CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals will officially be without two more of their top offensive linemen in Sunday’s AFC divisional playoff game against the Buffalo Bills.
Left tackle Jonah Williams and right guard Alex Cappa have been officially ruled out, leaving Cincinnati with three total reserves on the offensive line. Right tackle La’el Collins has been out since Week 16 with a torn ACL in his left knee.
Bengals coach Zac Taylor said the unit’s communication and level of detail was the most encouraging thing as Cincinnati prepares for Buffalo’s loud and rowdy home-field advantage.
“I thought they did a good job,” Taylor said of the group’s synergy. “I think they are ready to go and take advantage of their opportunities.”
Right guard Max Scharping and left tackle Jackson Carman have continued to work at those respective positions with Williams and Cappa out all week. Both players, who were at the team’s facilities throughout the week, were held out of practice as they recovered from their respective injuries.
When asked about their long-term prognosis, Taylor simply said both will continue to be evaluated on a weekly basis.
This will be the second game Cappa has missed since he suffered a left ankle injury in the Week 18 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Cappa was spotted using a push scooter and still had a protective boot on his left ankle earlier in the week. Williams was not using any movement aids when spotted in the locker room Wednesday after he suffered a dislocated kneecap in last weekend’s wild-card win against Baltimore, but Taylor maintained Williams’ week-to-week diagnosis.
Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said there are ways players and coaches can assist the offensive line against a Buffalo defensive line that ranked 11th in the league in pass rush win rate, an ESPN metric powered by NFL Next Gen. But when the line is required to give quarterback Joe Burrow enough time to hold the ball and make a play downfield, the pass protection must be sufficient.
“It doesn’t really change how we go about our week and how we play,” Callahan said earlier in the week. “We just know that we’ll have time and place to help guys when they need it.”
Cincinnati and Buffalo are meeting in the playoffs for the first time since the AFC Championship Game in 1989, a matchup the Bengals won. Most recently, the two teams met in the Week 17 game that was canceled after Buffalo safety Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest after making a tackle.
Bengals running back Joe Mixon said the energy throughout the week has been focused as Cincinnati prepares for Sunday’s game at Buffalo.
“You know what’s at stake,” Mixon said. “The game being in the playoffs speaks for itself. Everybody’s like, ‘Big game, big game.’ But this is automatically a big game. This is the playoffs. It’s win or go home.”