CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 10: Kevin Minter #51 of the Cincinnati Bengals takes the field during player introductions prior to the game against the Chicago Bears at Paul Brown Stadium on December 10, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

Bengals situation not looking good at linebacker

Starting linebackers Vontaze Burfict, Nick Vigil and Kevin Minter were among the seven players who missed practice Wednesday as the team began preparations for Sunday’s game at Minnesota.

Vigil has missed the last two games with an ankle injury, while Burfict left the Pittsburgh game with a concussion and did not play against Chicago.

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Minter missed Games 7-10 with an elbow injury but played in the last three. It was a hamstring injury that kept him out of practice Wednesday.

Also sitting out were running back Joe Mixon (concussion), cornerbacks Dre Kirkpatrick (concussion) and Darqueze Dennard (knee) and tight end Tyler Kroft (hamstring).

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Mixon and Kroft were doing rehab work on the side field.

If Burfict, Vigil and Minter can’t go against the Vikings, the Bengals will need to bring up undrafted rookie Brandon Bell and/or recently signed free agent Carl Bradford from the practice squad with Vinny Rey and rookies Jordan Evans and Hardy Nickerson being the only other linebackers currently on the 53-man roster.

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That’s bad news for a defense that ranks 32nd against the run after surrendering 232 rushing yards to the Bears in Sunday’s 33-7 loss.

Five players were limited in practice, including running back Giovani Bernard with a knee injury. The others were defensive end Carlos Dunlap (chest), tackle Cedric Ogbuehi (shoulder), defensive tackle Pat Sims (heel) and safety Shawn Williams (hamstring).

Williams has missed the last three games and four of five.

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