CINCINNATI — The Bengals are sticking with Fred Johnson. The second-year offensive lineman had a rough debut at right guard against the Browns last week.
Johnson got the starting nod over Billy Price on a short week.
"Billy is coming off the ankle and we thought we'd give Fred an opportunity," head coach Zac Taylor said. "He's been fighting for spots since he's been here. We look forward to getting Fred an actual day of practice at right guard. We had that short week. We never put on the pads or hit or anything, so he's only going to get better with every single practice and every single game. So we're going to give him another shot there."
Starting guard Xavier Su'a-Filo suffered an ankle injury in the Bengals' season opener against the Chargers. He's going to miss at least two more games since the team placed him on injured reserve.
Johnson posted a 54.2 overall grade in Week 2 according to Pro Football Focus. He was forced to pass block 72 times, which didn't bode well for him or the rest of the offensive line.
Bengals center Trey Hopkins was impressed with Johnson's performance considering the circumstances. Sure, he had his issues, but that was expected.
“I was extremely proud of Fred," Hopkins said. "I think the biggest testament to Fred is that he did not get discouraged throughout that game from that [his struggles]. I expect him to attack this week of practice with that under his belt. And knowing what a live rep at guard feels like now, a game rep at guard. And just be able to prepare that much better so you don’t have those moments in this upcoming game.”
Johnson will be tested, as will the rest of the Bengals' offensive line. The Eagles have great defensive linemen, including Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Josh Sweat.
Johnson has only played in eight regular season NFL games. He made one start for the Bengals at left tackle last season, prior to his Week 2 start at guard. It's reasonable to expect him to be better against the Eagles.
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