It's still unclear whether Joe Burrow will play in his team's pivotal battle against the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night. No matter who's starting under center for the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 3, though, will likely have to make do without starting tight end Irv Smith Jr.
Smith was listed as doubtful to play against the Rams on Saturday's official injury report. The fifth-year pro is dealing with a hamstring injury that limited him in practice leading up to Monday's contest. He didn't practice at all on Thursday, then was a partial participant in Friday and Saturday's sessions. Expect backup Drew Sample to start if Smith can't go against the Rams.
Smith signed a one-year deal with Cincinnati in free agency last March. He's started both of the Bengals' season-opening games at tight end, totaling just five catches for 29 yards on nine targets. That relative lack of production says more about Cincinnati's widespread offensive labors in the season's early going than anything definitive about Smith's fit with his new team, though.
Burrow just hasn't been himself while recovering from a calf injury that cost him almost all of training camp, completing just 56.9% of his throws and averaging a paltry 4.2 yards per attempt. The Bengals are 0-2 as a result, putting up just three points vs. the Cleveland Browns in their 2023 debut before coming up short last week in a comeback attempt against the Baltimore Ravens, falling 27-24.
Burrow is officially listed as questionable to play in Week 3, but the fact he was a limited practice participant on Saturday suggests he's likely to suit up. Cincinnati and Los Angeles kickoff from Paycor Stadium at 5:15 p.m. on Monday.