If practicing for the first time since Nov. 8 wasn’t enough of a positive sign that Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Tee Higgins will play Monday night at Jacksonville, his willingness to do a media session for the first time since injuring his hamstring hammered home the point.
Higgins said he feels as though he’s 100 percent healthy despite the team bringing him along slowly and limiting his participation, and he’s looking forward to being back in action against the Jaguars.
Will Tee Higgins Play Monday at Jacksonville?
“That’s the plan for sure,” Higgins said.
Higgins has missed the last three games, all losses, due to the hamstring injury, and he also missed the Week 5 win at Arizona due to a fractured rib.
“Obviously, it’s frustrating with the injuries and stuff, but any time I can be out with the guys and help the team get a ‘W,’ that’s all I ask for,” Higgins said.
Asked about some of the outside criticism that he wasn’t playing due to the lack of getting a contract extension for the start of the season and his pending foray into free agency for the first time, Higgins said he was unaware of it but isn’t surprised by it.
— Jay Morrison (@ByJayMorrison) November 24, 2023
“I haven’t heard that, haven’t seen it,” he said. “I’m pretty sure people have been talking like that, but it’s cool. My health is way more important than the other people who have their opinion on me.”
“But I’m here, and my only thing is I always want to help this team,” he continued. “I’m glad I’m here, and I’m glad I’m healthy.”
Bengals quarterback Jake Browning is glad Higgins is back as well.
“Tee’s one of the top receivers in the NFL,” he said. “I don’t think I can really put into words how important he is to this offense. I think we’ve got a really good receiver room, and I don’t want to take away from (it). I think Andrei (Iosivas) has continued to play really well. Trenton Irwin has proven he can do it. But there’s just something that Tee brings to the table being as big, as fast, and having the experience he does, where it’s always nice to have him and Ja’Marr (Chase) on the outside.”
Higgins’ hamstring injury occurred while running a go route in practice the Wednesday before the Houston game. When it first happened, he didn’t think it was going to cost him any games.
“It was a deep ball, and I over-strided,” Higgins said. “Things like that happen. I thought it was just gonna be a little strain or something like that. But I obviously went in and got the pictures, and it was a little worse than we thought.”
Even in the best-case scenario that Higgins plays in all six remaining games, he will still have missed nearly a quarter of it with four out of 17 games. But he said that doesn’t mean he can’t accomplish his goals.
“I’ve still got my goals written down, and I’ve still got goals to cross off for this season,” he said. “Some of them I might not be able to hit, but at the same time, I might. You never know. My goal is to go out and accomplish those goals no matter what.”
— Jay Morrison (@ByJayMorrison) November 30, 2023
Asked if he could share a couple of those goals, Higgins declined.
But the key one for any receiver is a 1,000-yard season, yet the missed time and the slow start to the season may have that out of reach. Higgins has 27 catches for 328 yards. He would need to average 110.3 yards over the final six games to get there.
The most important part of the equation at this point is that Higgins plans to return to action.
And whatever personal goals he has set to help him land a life-changing contract in the offseason are currently behind his main goal of helping the Bengals snap their three-game losing streak and keep hope alive for a playoff berth.
“Obviously, we definitely want to win, definitely need to win,” he said. “I feel like this could definitely get us back on track to where we want to go. We know we’ve still got the guys in this locker room to go out and win games. All it takes is for us to put together the pieces of the puzzle and complement each other and just play ball.”
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