Taylor said he wasn’t going to comment specifically on Johnson’s timeline, noting he will “just let the transactions speak for themselves” moving forward with COVID-related moves. However, he did confirm that a player who is asymptomatic has to wait 10 days from the time he tested positive, so the earliest Johnson could return would be Monday.
“We feel good about how we’ve handled the entire process, and our communication with the league has been great,” Taylor said. “We just move forward every day. We know that these next eight weeks are going to be a challenge for the entire league. We just have to be willing to be flexible.”
Being flexible means shifting the schedule around to get the necessary work in when the team can’t meet in person. Taylor wasn’t concerned about the Bengals' preparations being impacted. They began initial studying of Pittsburgh last week before breaking for the bye, so they already were ahead in some ways.
The team hadn’t sent out an adjusted practice schedule for the week at time of publication Monday.
“Just a couple tweaks virtual meeting wise, but you can still be on the field for the same allotted time, so we’ll still get all that work done the right way,” Taylor said. “Again, we did a whole offseason similar to the virtual stuff and feel comfortable with all the things we can accomplish that way. There’s no concern over losing anything.”
In retrospect, there could have been a bigger issue had NFL protocols not required daily testing even while on the bye.
“I think those protocols are in place for a reason,” Taylor said. “Guys gotta test every single day, so they can’t get on a plane, can’t go anywhere. That part has been good. Our guys have done a really nice job so far. I think most teams have had some sort of issue in some shape or form, and again, we’ve just got to continue to be on top of this for our guys. We’ve got to continue to be unselfish. Again, we will just keep preaching that each and every day.”
The Bengals built some momentum going into the bye by beating a five-win Tennessee team leading the AFC South. Pittsburgh (8-0) won’t be easy either, but Taylor said the excitement felt outside the organization is similar to the feeling inside the building at Paul Brown Stadium.
“It’s confidence, is the word I would use to describe our football team with right now,” Taylor said. “We’ve prepared, we’ve felt confident going into these games. We played well in spurts in a lot of games we played. We just hadn’t put it together until the Tennessee game. We have to stay level-headed. We can’t ride that wave of excitement and discouragement and we’ve just got to keep putting in the work and know it will pay off if we do things the right way.”
Bengals at Steelers, 4:25 p.m., Fox, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7