Core left Sunday's Week 17 game against the Steelers with what appeared to be a dislocated left elbow. It looked as if the Bengals' medical staff had to pop Core's elbow back into place right on the field and place the left arm in an air cast even before he left for the locker room. The Bengals have run out of healthy receivers to finish the season. They'll finish out this game with John Ross, Alex Erickson, Auden Tate and Josh Malone.
Core caught two of three targets, accumulating a season-high 36 receiving yards during Sunday's 26-18 loss to Cleveland. The third-year receiver out of Ole Miss has garnered multiple targets in seven straight games, but he's posted a convincingly inefficient catch rate of 50 percent during that span (with fewer than 20 receiving YPG). His involvement has vamped up substantially of late, playing 36.8 offensive snaps per game over Cincinnati's past five contests, compared to 11.4 snaps per game between Week 5 and 10. In the regular season finale Sunday afternoon, Core will face a Steelers defense that allowed 229 receiving yards and one touchdown to opposing wideouts in its Week 16 matchup against New Orleans.
Core will enter the starting lineup Sunday against the Browns, replacing the injured Tyler Boyd (knee), Katherine Terrell of ESPN.com reports. Already missing top wideout A.J. Green (foot) and top tight end Tyler Eifert (ankle) for many weeks now, the putrid Cincinnati passing attack will take an even greater hit with Boyd joining the wounded ranks. Core and John Ross will thus form the Bengals' starting receiver duo, though both represent shaky fantasy plays in Week 16 lineups. Expect the Bengals to lean heavily on lead running back Joe Mixon early and often unless the game script forces the team to enter catch-up mode and throw more frequently.
Core was held to one catch for 10 yards on four targets in Sunday's win over the Raiders. Even with A.J. Green (toe) on injured reserve and Tyler Boyd (knee) missing half of the game, Core was not a core component of the offense, though in fairness the Bengals were so successful in running the ball, so they had fewer targets to spread around.
Core had just one catch Sunday against the Broncos, but it was good for 30 yards and his first NFL touchdown. Core's snap count has been steadily climbing this season. On Sunday, he logged a season-high 35 snaps and was targeted four times on those snaps. With A.J. Green (foot) out for the season, it appears he'll get an extended look over the last four games.
|* indicates player did not play that week|
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