CINCINNATI – The Cincinnati Bengals will have their top tight end for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game.
Hayden Hurst was a full participant at Friday’s practice and was not listed on the final game status report after dealing with a calf injury the previous day. He was limited on Thursday but it ended up being a minor issue as the team finished preparations for the conference title game against Kansas City.
“I thought he had a good practice today,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said.
Hurst’s limitations on Thursday were for precautionary reasons, Taylor said. On Friday, Hurst did not appear to run many routes with the offense during the portion of practice open to the media, with reserves Mitchell Wilcox and Devin Asiasi getting most of the reps. Hurst wore a compression sleeve on his left leg to keep it warm while the team prepared inside its temporary indoor facility.
Hurst is no stranger to calf injuries this season. He tweaked his right calf in the Week 13 win over Kansas City and proceeded to miss the next three games with the injury.
In the build-up to that game, Kansas City safety Justin Reid misidentified Hurst in an interview before stating that he was going to lock Hurst down. Hurst lamented missing that contest.
“Sundays are my time to party,” Hurst said. “Last time against these guys, unfortunately my calf gave out on me. It sucks because I want to be out there with the guys, helping them win.”
The former first-round pick in the 2018 draft signed a 1-year deal with the Bengals last offseason to replace CJ Uzomah, who signed with the New York Jets. Hurst proved to be a key player for quarterback Joe Burrow in the regular season and has continued that form into the postseason.
In the two playoff games, Hurst is second on the team in receptions (9) and receiving yards (145), and he had one of the team’s three receiving touchdowns.
“He brings a lot of energy, always knows what he’s doing, brings physicality, reliable in the pass game,” Burrow said on Thursday. “Just a trustworthy, reliable, explosive player. Love to have him.”
In other injury news, the Bengals will be without two starters on the offensive line for yet another game. Right guard Alex Cappa (ankle) and left tackle Jonah Williams (knee) did not practice all week and were ruled out for Sunday’s game. Cappa hasn’t played since he suffered his injury in Week 18, while Williams missed the divisional playoff game after he dislocated a kneecap in the wild-card playoff win against Baltimore.
Bengals coach Zac Taylor said he has plenty of confidence in the unit currently playing three reserves.
“It’s for times like these that you are going to have to pull from your depth,” Taylor said. “So far those guys have stepped up to the challenge.”