The season finale between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens is one that will be absent stars like rookie first-round pick Joe Burrow and running back Joe Mixon, but head coach Zac Taylor will also take a hit on the defensive side of the ball. As he attempts to ready his group for a Ravens team that still has something to play for, they'll have to do so without starting nose tackle Mike Daniels, an initial report having now been confirmed by CBS Sports insider Jason La Canfora.
Daniels reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 and will now miss the Week 17 contest, along with another unidentified player who is exhibiting symptoms on Saturday. Both have forced the team to work through contact tracing and, as such, the Bengals have moved their walkthrough from the morning to later in the day -- the hopes being they have no additional issues that prevent it. As it stands, there has been no change in the league's plan to go forward with the game as scheduled.
Daniels, 31, is a big body of talent needed on the Bengals defensive front, having joined them this past offseason on a one-year, $2.7 million deal after spending one year with the Detroit Lions. A former fourth-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft of the Green Bay Packers, he landed Pro Bowl honors in 2017 before ultimately heading to team's division rival.
The absence will conclude Daniels' season, considering the Bengals are 4-10-1 and have long been eliminated from playoff contention, but it's uncertain if he'll rejoin Cincinnati for a second year when free agency rolls back around.
Taylor will look to backup nose tackle for Xavier Williams for added reps against the Ravens, with a mix of others to help salve the wound of losing Daniels. For Baltimore, it weakens a defensive front already faced with the tall task of stopping the Ravens run attack.