Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor's optimism this week for the Super Bowl playing status of tight end C.J. Uzomah is getting progressively stronger.
Asked Friday about Uzomah's progress in returning from a knee injury, Taylor said it's been "as good as we could've hoped, and we expect him to play on Sunday," according to Bengals team reporter Marisa Contipelli.
The team officially listed him as questionable to play on Friday.
Taylor has been upbeat about Uzomah's recovery in the lead-up to Super Bowl LVI, and Thursday offered a significantly positive step as Uzomah practiced, albeit on a limited basis, for the first time since incurring the injury. He suffered an MCL sprain during the Bengals' AFC title win over the Kansas City Chiefs, but has insisted he'll be available.
"I'm not missing the biggest game of my life," Uzomah said earlier this week.
Uzomah has enjoyed a career-best season as quarterback Joe Burrow's top tight end target, catching 49 passes for 493 yards and five touchdowns in the regular season. He's been even more of a target for Burrow in the playoffs, with performances of 6-64-1 and 7-71-0 in postseason wins over the Las Vegas Raiders and Tennessee Titans. He exited the game against the Chiefs without a reception.
"Highly underrated part of our offenses this year," Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan said this week. "You know, he doesn't quite get the accolades and recognition that our receiving corps does. But he certainly deserves probably just as much because of what he's asked to do. He's a Swiss Army knife in the sense that he can get in there and block, he's physical, he's tough, he catches balls, he breaks tackles."
Uzomah will be an unrestricted free agent this spring, so the Bengals might be without their top tight end soon enough. But more importantly, with a shot at the first Super Bowl title in franchise history at stake, it's looking increasingly likely that he'll be a go for at least one more game.