The 2019 fourth-round draft pick made three appearances as a rookie, all starts, and has completed 51 of 106 passes (48.1 percent) for 549 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions in seven appearances overall. Neither Finley nor Allen were made available on Zoom news conferences this week.
“It just seems like he’s ready to go, like this is his year to prove himself, so I believe he’s going to do well,” wide receiver Tyler Boyd on Friday when asked about how Finley looks in practice.
Allen sat out of practice Thursday and didn’t have a helmet with him Friday during the portion of practice open to media, according to ESPN.com’s Ben Baby. The Bengals have one more practice Saturday before the game status report is determined.
Finley has been running the scout-team offense as the backup all season, so these are his first consistent first-team reps this season.
“Ryan’s obviously been around, he knows the offense and he feels comfortable in it, so he didn’t really miss a beat,” tight end Drew Sample said. “He came out and like I said, we’ve had a really good week of practice, and so we’re just excited to continue to get better and dial into the game plan for this week and go out there and show what we can do.”
Wide receiver Tee Higgins said it seemed like Allen was getting more comfortable with the receivers the last two weeks but noted how difficult it is adjusting to so many new quarterbacks as a rookie.
Finley faced the Steelers once last year and learned how difficult their pass rush can be. It’s even better in 2020, and the Bengals offensive line has struggled to keep its quarterbacks up right all year. Taylor said Fred Johnson will get another shot at left tackle this week after replacing rookie Hakeem Adeniji on the third series Sunday in place of injured Jonah Williams, but Finley especially is at a disadvantage with how long he tends to hold onto the ball.
In his lone previous outing against Pittsburgh last year in a 16-10 loss, Finley completed 12 of 26 passes for 192 yards and one touchdown and was sacked four times. The game was closer than expected in part because Pittsburgh was without Roethlisberger, running back James Conner and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
When asked if practice squad quarterback Kevin Hogan would be considered this week, Taylor said the focus is on preparing Finley until Allen is back. Allen leaped Finley from that position to become the starter, essentially coming out of a quarantine-like role as the emergency COVID quarterback.
“We kind of invest in one guy right now,” Taylor said. “Kevin will still get some reps in some other ways. He is at practice. So, quarantine, I understand that part of things. But he does all the Zoom meetings and he does come to practice and participate, so in that way he’s still part of the team.”
Steelers at Bengals, 8:15 p.m., ESPN, NFL, 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7