- Coley Harvey, ESPN Staff Writer
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CINCINNATI -- While broader long-term uncertainty looms about two of the Cincinnati Bengals' biggest stars, they have one other young player whose anticipated absence Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers comes just when he was beginning to peak.
Receiver James Wright, the rookie who was one of the heroes of last week's win at Tampa Bay, was tabbed as doubtful on the injury report released Friday afternoon.
Wright has a knee injury that has kept him out of practice all week. Coach Marvin Lewis doesn't think the injury is anything to be overly concerned about. It's one he believes Wright will return from soon. As for whether that return would be this weekend, Lewis, before the injury report was released, offered his patented "we'll see."
With Wright likely not playing, look for veteran Brandon Tate to resume his duties as the team's third receiver. Tate had been in that role early in the season before Wright began soaring in recent weeks. The seventh-round draft pick had the best game of his young career last week when he caught three passes for 59 yards. Each of them converted pivotal third downs, but none was more impressive than his catch along the Bengals' sideline with 2:37 to go. His leaping, 30-yard grab extended a key late Bengals drive and helped take time off the clock the Buccaneers needed on their ensuing possession.
After averaging 12.8 snaps in the first nine games he played this season, Wright was part of 39 snaps two weeks ago and played 22 last week.
Wright's absence could mean the Bengals place receiver Greg Little on the active gameday roster for the first time in four weeks. Dane Sanzenbacher also has a chance to be part of the active group after being on the fringe all season.
Long-term uncertainty remains for linebacker Vontaze Burfict and tight end Tyler Eifert. Neither will be playing this weekend. It still isn't clear when the pair will rejoin the team, or even if that will happen before the postseason begins.
Here's the Bengals' complete Friday injury report:
LB Jayson DiManche (forearm -- placed on IR earlier this week)
LB Vontaze Burfict (knee)
DE Margus Hunt (ankle)
WR James Wright (knee)
DT Domata Peko (elbow)
Rookie receiver James Wright, who has made an impact of late, is doubtful for the Cincinnati Bengals vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers.