CINCINNATI — The Bengals return to Paul Brown Stadium on Monday following a productive bye week.
All three AFC North teams that were in front of Cincinnati lost or tied in Week 10, which means the Bengals are just one game behind the first-place Ravens.
If Cincinnati is going to make a real run at the division, then they need to solve a few issues, including a question mark at cornerback.
With Trae Waynes on injured reserve with a hamstring injury, they were forced to turn to Eli Apple early in the season. The former first round pick has had an up-and-down start to his Bengals' tenure.
The first few games of the season were rough for Apple, then he bounced back and played well.
Unfortunately, much like the Bengals' defense as a whole, Apple's run came crashing down in Cincinnati's final two games before the bye. He gave up multiple plays to the Jets and Browns, including a 60-yard touchdown to Donovan Peoples-Jones.
"Playing corner in this league is very difficult. You're going to have to cover some really good receivers, you're going to be put on an island, you're going to win some and lose some," Bengals head coach Zac Taylor told Geoff Hobson of Bengals.com. "You have to be able to bounce back and put that one behind you. We've got faith in Eli Apple and expect him to continue to step up."
It doesn't sound like either guy is going to take Apple's starting job—at least not yet.
"I think what we'll do is see how those guys fit our scheme and see what their strengths are. The better thing to do is to involve them in some smaller roles to get them involved in the same system and the communication aspect of things and we'll just see if anyone expands their role going forward," Taylor said. "We've added veteran corner experience and anyone who's been around this league long enough knows that in November, December, January, that's going to pay dividends having a lot guys there for a variety of reasons. So it's good to get some guys who have played ball in the NFL before."
If Waynes continues to miss time and Apple struggles then the Bengals have experienced backups that they can lean on, but it doesn't seem like they plan on making a change at cornerback ahead of Sunday's game against the Raiders.
Read Hobson's entire conversation with Taylor here.
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