Jan 22, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah (87) runs after a reception against the Tennessee Titans during a AFC Divisional playoff football game at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah (knee) to play Sunday

Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah will play in Super Bowl LVI despite a sprained MCL in his left knee, ESPN reported Sunday morning.

Uzomah, 29, is officially listed as questionable for Sunday’s showdown with the Los Angeles Rams in Inglewood, Calif.

Uzomah was a full participant in Friday’s practice. He was injured during the AFC Championship Game against the Kansas City Chiefs and returned to practice Thursday in a limited capacity.

“I’m not missing the biggest game of my life,” Uzomah said earlier this week.

The seven-year veteran had 49 catches for 493 yards and five touchdowns in the regular season — all career highs — and added 13 receptions for 135 yards and a score in three playoff games.

–Field Level Media

Cincinnati Bengals free safety Jessie Bates (30) celebrates after an interception during an NFL divisional playoff football game, Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022, at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn. Cincinnati Bengals defeated Tennessee Titans 19-16.

Cincinnati Bengals At Tennessee Titans Divisional Playoff 70

Notebook: Bengals’ secondary wise to Rams’ ‘smart’ receivers

Ahead of Super Bowl LVI, one of the words Cincinnati Bengals defenders are using to describe their Los Angeles Rams opponents is “smart.”

“There’s multiple times where you’ll see Odell (Beckham) or Cooper Kupp, they know exactly where the zones are, where the soft spots are in zones. … Very talented group, but also very smart, and that’s what makes them dangerous,” Bengals safety and captain Jessie Bates III said Thursday.

It will be up to Bates and the secondary to slow down a dynamic Rams passing game in Sunday’s game at Inglewood, Calif.

Kupp won the receiving “triple crown” during the regular season by leading the league in receptions (145), yards (1,947) and touchdowns (16), becoming the first player to accomplish the feat since Steve Smith in 2005. In November, the Rams signed the talented Beckham, who had 27 catches for 305 yards and five touchdowns in eight regular-season games in Los Angeles.

The Rams, who also received contributions from DeSean Jackson before his release and Robert Woods before a season-ending ACL tear, led the NFL with 18 passing plays of 40 yards or more.

The Bengals will counter with Mike Hilton, a lauded nickel corner who may see a lot of Kupp in the slot. Bates, Vonn Bell and Ricardo Allen play safety for Cincinnati and Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple start at outside corner.

They also have depth in the form of Tre Flowers, a former Seattle Seahawks cornerback who dealt with Sean McVay’s offense plenty in his past.

“I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to play against these guys seven times before I left (Seattle), so it’s gonna be a great challenge,” Flowers said.

Allen, who played with the Atlanta Falcons from 2015-20, is the only Bengals player with past Super Bowl experience. The day did not go exactly as planned as he watched Tom Brady lead a comeback from down 28-3 to give the New England Patriots a stunning win over Atlanta.

“It’s an offense that’s very adaptable,” Allen said of the Rams. “They can adapt on the run and stuff like that. So you’ve got to know that about them. To be honest, it’s going to be players making plays, man. We’ll have to go out there and see what matchup they’re trying to get, see what analysis they’re trying to take away from us.”

While the Bengals have drawn attention for their high-powered offense, led by Joe Burrow, and their own set of wideouts, head coach Zac Taylor felt his defense (ranked ninth in yards allowed, fifth in points allowed) often was overlooked.

“I do agree that they haven’t gotten the credit that they’ve deserved,” Taylor said. “You look at the group, they played their tails off in the playoffs, but really it goes back way before that. They’ve been consistent throughout the season.”

— C.J. Uzomah, who sprained the MCL in his left knee during the AFC Championship Game, reiterated his stance Thursday that he is “not missing the biggest game of (his) life.”

Uzomah did not practice Wednesday and the Bengals held Thursday’s media availability before practice. But Taylor has said Uzomah’s status is trending in a positive direction.

The seventh-year tight end is a Bengals fan favorite, and he continued to ingratiate himself with the city of Cincinnati this week. At a fan rally Monday night, Uzomah came out wearing a knee brace before he theatrically ripped it off his leg and tossed it aside to hype up the crowd. He admitted Thursday that he used a prop brace for that move, not the one he had actually been wearing.

He also promised in a podcast interview that he would bathe in Cincinnati’s famed Skyline chili, with the host, if the Bengals won Sunday’s game.

“Easy. 100 percent,” Uzomah said. “I’m wearing swim trunks, but you put it in a swimming pool, I’ll dive in there and I’ll eat my way out.”

–The Bengals say their team culture under Taylor’s regime has been years in the making, even through recent setbacks.

In late 2020, Burrow’s rookie season was cut short by an ACL and MCL tear. Bates said Thursday that after Burrow went down, Taylor called him, running back Joe Mixon and wide receiver Tyler Boyd to discuss carrying on as leaders in the locker room.

“(He challenged) us to kind of step up,” Bates said, “embrace the situation we were in last year where we didn’t have the MVP of the league or the comeback player of the year. We knew what we had here. We knew what we were building with. … If you learn from it, it’s not really the struggle, it’s part of the process. That’s the beauty at the end.”

Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah (87) stretches before the AFC championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

Cincinnati Bengals At Kansas City Chiefs Jan 30 Afc Championship 21

Bengals TE C.J. Uzomah’s knee sprain ‘encouraging’

Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah suffered an MCL sprain in Sunday’s AFC Championship game and will have a chance to play in the Super Bowl against the Los Angeles Rams.

Bengals coach Zac Taylor on Monday called the MRI results “encouraging.”

“Don’t know anything further at this point but it seems to be encouraging initially,” Taylor said.

Uzomah injured his left knee in the first quarter and exited Sunday’s game against the host Kansas City Chiefs. Uzomah returned to the field early in the third quarter in street clothes, sporting crutches and a big knee brace. He had zero catches on two targets before the injury.

Uzomah was hurt on an incomplete pass in which he was the recipient of a hit from Kansas City linebacker Anthony Hitchens. He hobbled to the sideline and was carted to the locker room.

The 29-year-old Uzomah had 13 receptions for 135 yards and one touchdown in Cincinnati’s first two playoff victories. The seven-year veteran who has spent his entire career with the Bengals established career bests of 49 receptions, 493 yards and five touchdowns in 16 games during the regular season.

Super Bowl LVI is Feb. 13 in Los Angeles.

–Field Level Media

Sep 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  Cincinnati Bengals tight end C.J. Uzomah (87) after his team defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

C.J. Uzomah: Bengals will put ‘league on notice’ with win vs. Packers

The Cincinnati Bengals are off to a fast start, however their three wins this season have come at the expense of struggling clubs.

Tight end C.J. Uzomah said the Bengals (3-1) can make a statement on Sunday when they host Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (3-1).

“It’s the message that we’re here,” Uzomah said on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football on Friday. “This is another huge opportunity for us. … They’re coming to the jungle. They’re coming to our house, and we expect a big crowd to kind of rattle (Rodgers) a little bit as much as we can rattle him. Everything helps in our favor playing at home.

“We get this win, and we put the league on notice that we’re here. This isn’t a 3-1 that just happens to be 3-1. At this point, it’s a 4-1 that just beat the Packers, who are on a hot streak, who are on a run and have one of the hottest quarterbacks to play the game. That’s what we’re after, that’s our goal, and that’s our mentality.”

Cincinnati split its first two games before posting a 24-10 win in Pittsburgh on Sept. 26 and a 24-21 victory over Jacksonville four days later. Uzomah reeled in two touchdown receptions in the win over the Jaguars.

The Bengals are bidding for their first 4-1 record since the 2018 season. The promise of a strong season quickly faded that year as they lost nine of their remaining 11 games.

Cincinnati went 4-11-1 last season.

–Field Level Media