The Cincinnati Bengals’ preseason could best be described as a string of injuries with a side of football. No individual player on the field ever outshone those that rode the bench during the month of August; however, barring anymore Dre Kirkpatrick-like setbacks, the Bengal injury report should be fairly empty when it is released this Thursday.
For now, here’s a projected tally to get Who Dey diehards to Thursday when the official injury report is released by the team:
CB Dre Kirkpatrick – The biggest reservation about Kirkpatrick going into last April’s Draft was his off-the-field issues, but all of that took a back seat to his fledgling health this August. The first round selection sat out during the preseason with a nagging knee injury and now complications from said injury will keep him from practicing for another few weeks. Considering the lack of reps he took prior to the regular season and his position on the depth chart, it could be a while before Kirkpatrick sees the field even after he’s cleared to play.
DE Carlos Dunlap – Honestly, even labeling Dunlap as doubtful may be too optimistic. Even with several injured Bengals returning to practice this week, Dunlap was still sidelined with a sprained knee. Similar to Kirkpatrick, Dunlap has simply not received enough playing time so it’s borderline unrealistic to expect head coach, Marvin Lewis to plug him into the lineup against a very physical Baltimore Ravens offensive line. I don’t expect him to go Monday night.
The top 2 backs: BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Bernard Scott – Both tailbacks missed the entirety of the preseason with a foot and hand injury respectively. This could explain the surprisingly amount of running backs on the Bengals’ depth chart (4) since backups, Brian Leonard and Cedric Peerman carried most of the load in August and got a chance to make a strong case for themselves on the field. However, Green-Ellis and Scott are expected to bring the 1-2 punch of power and speed that Cincinnati missed dearly during the preseason, so it will be interesting to see if either of them miss a step against a stingy Ravens defense.
DE Robert Geathers – This is the big one since both Geathers and Dunlap line up on the left side and Dunlap is almost certainly a no-go for Monday. Things are certainly looking up for the mending Geathers, but he just returned to practice this Monday after missing all of the preseason and a portion of July practices. It really comes down to how the medical staff gauges his progress against the coaching staff’s confidence in potential replacement, Jamaal Anderson. All said, if Geathers doesn’t go, the Bengals will storm out of the Ravens’ tunnel with only 2 active defensive ends.
CBs Jason Allen and Adam Jones – You won’t hear many coaches say the phrase, “Thank God, Pacman Jones is back,” but the Bengals are a special case considering the state of the injury-plagued Dre Kirkpatrick. Allen and Jones will get an immediate bump with the rookie’s absence, and their play will be pivotal; not to the game necessarily, but to future depth chart positioning. If these two shine in the first few weeks, there’s a chance Kirkpatrick will slide below them and have an even steeper climb to the top of the corner roster.
THE SURE THINGS:
QB Andy Dalton – Everybody chill out! He’s gonna be fine! Dalton certainly put the fear of god in Who Dey Nation after bruising his throwing shoulder and mysteriously collapsing on the sideline, but he is showing no lingering effects and fully participated in practice on Monday. Rest assured, the weird-looking, red-headed wonder will be trotting out there with the rest of the first team offense.
MLB Rey Maualuga – Truthfully, one of the most intriguing storylines of the Bengals’ preseason – the roster battle between backups Roddrick Muckelroy and Vontaze Burfict – was borne out of Maualuga’s sprained knee injury during the first preseason game, which sidelined him for the remainder of August. It may have also kept him out of the final preseason game against the Indianapolis Colts because, by all accounts, Maualuga seemed ready to go but the coaching staff wanted to play it safe and see the lower end of the depth chart duke it out for starting jobs. Maualuga’s a go. Mark it down.