CINCINNATI (AP) — With guard Alex Cappa now sidelined, the Cincinnati Bengals are faced with starting two backups on the right side of the offensive line for Sunday’s playoff game.

Coach Zac Taylor said Wednesday that Cappa’s injury, suffered in last week’s game, will keep him out of at least the opening playoff game against the Ravens. Beyond that, he can’t say.

Cappa’s injury came two weeks after right tackle La’el Collins was lost for the season to a knee injury. Hakeem Adeniji, whose struggles in pass protection in the postseason last year were conspicuous, is playing in place of Collins. Slotting in for Cappa will be Max Scharping, who started 33 games in Houston in his first three seasons and was claimed off waivers in September.

“The O-line is a continuity and repetition position,” said center Ted Karras, who is responsible for making blocking calls at the line. “We’ve been repping all year, but it will be hard, especially to replace Alex because of our relationship, just how to ID the defense, how to distribute all our blockers. He’s been a humongous help to me, saved me a few times over the season. So I had to step it up. Everyone’s got to step it up. Max has a great opportunity in front of him, and I’m excited to see how he performs.”

The 26-year-old Scharping said he’s capable of holding down the key position.

“I’ve been here all year, so it’s not necessarily anything lacking,” he said. “I’m just hoping to go out there and play to the best of my ability on each play and hopefully be there when (Karras) needs me most.”

Cappa was the first free agent targeted — he got a four-year deal worth $40 million — when Cincinnati began rebuilding its subpar offensive line before the season. It also brought in veterans Karras and Collins, with rookie fourth-round draft pick Cordell Volson fitting in at left guard.

With Jonah Williams at left tackle, the offensive front was together for the first 15 games and became one of the team’s greatest strengths through the eight-game win streak to finish the regular season.

Offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said the scheme won’t change much because of the new personnel on the right side.

“They’ve all been getting reps in all the things that we do and how we run them,” Callahan said. “At this point in the year, it’s hard to introduce all kinds of shiny new things that are really going to change who you are. We’re still going to be who we are as an offense and run a lot of the things that we’ve run and have had success with over the course of the season.”

They will have to contend with a Ravens defense that ranks third in the league in points allowed and ninth in yards.

NOTES: WR Tee Higgins missed Wednesday’s practice with an illness. … S Tycen Anderson was cleared to return to practice. The 2022 fifth-round draft pick injured his hamstring in the preseason.



Sunday, 8:15 p.m. EST, NBC


AGAINST THE SPREAD: Ravens 7-9-1; Bengals 12-4

SERIES RECORD: Ravens lead 28-26.

LAST MEETING: Bengals beat Ravens 27-16 in regular-season finale last Sunday in Cincinnati.





TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Ravens plus-4; Bengals plus-6

RAVENS PLAYER TO WATCH: LB Roquan Smith. The Ravens have been a different team defensively since he arrived in a midseason trade — allowing just 14.7 points per game with him — and Baltimore just gave him a five-year contract extension. The knee injury to star QB Lamar Jackson has put even more pressure on Smith and the defense to keep the Ravens in games.

BENGALS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Ja’Marr Chase topped the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards in each of first two years in the league. He can catch anything thrown close to him.

KEY MATCHUP: Bengals QB Joe Burrow vs. the Baltimore secondary. Burrow had two of this three least-productive games this season against the Ravens. He threw for 217 yards in the first Baltimore game and 215 last Sunday, most of those coming in the first half.

KEY INJURIES: Jackson (knee) has missed the past five games. Tyler Huntley started the first four of those but has been battling shoulder issues, so Anthony Brown started at QB last weekend at Cincinnati. … Ravens RB Gus Edwards (concussion) missed practice time this week. … Bengals RG Alex Cappa is out after injuring an ankle in last week’s game. Max Scharping will replace him.

SERIES NOTES: The teams split their series this season, after the Bengals won both games in 2021. But the Ravens have won six of the past nine matchups. … Justin Tucker kicked a 43-yard field goal on the final play to give Baltimore the victory in this season’s first meeting. … Last week the Bengals bolted out to a 24-7 halftime lead and then held off the Ravens to win 27-16. … These two teams have never faced each other in the playoffs.

STATS AND STUFF: The Ravens are making their fourth playoff appearance in five seasons and 10th in John Harbaugh’s 15 seasons as coach. … This is the Ravens’ 15th road playoff game since 2008, the most in the league. They’re 8-6 in the previous 14. Harbaugh’s eight road playoff victories are an NFL record. … Baltimore is 8-2 in wild-card playoff games, including 6-0 on the road. … Baltimore had multiple sacks in each of the last 13 games of the regular season. … Marlon Humphrey of the Ravens is one of two DBs this season with at least three sacks and three interceptions. Kansas City’s L’Jarius Sneed is the other. … Baltimore RB J.K. Dobbins averaged 99.3 yards rushing per game after returning from IR in Week 14. … Justin Tucker is one point behind Matt Stover for the most postseason points in Ravens history … Huntley has eight starts at QB, and Brown made his first last week. … Burrow had 35 touchdown passes, breaking last season’s total of 34 and tying the Bills’ Josh Allen for second most in the league. Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes had 40. … The Bengals have won eight in a row after losing their first two games and starting the season 4-4. … The Bengals defense forced four turnovers in the win over the Ravens last week. … Cincinnati has scored on 48 out of 57 trips to the red zone this season, including 37 TDs. … Bengals TE Hayden Hurst was a first-round draft pick of the Ravens in 2018 and spent the 2018-19 seasons with Baltimore.