The Five: A look at players the Bengals can't afford to lose

Scott Halleran

After the San Francisco 49ers lost their star wide receiver during OTAs, it got us thinking about the Bengals players that the team couldn't afford to lose.

The San Francisco received some of the worst news one could possible receive when starting wide receiver Michael Crabtree suffered an Achilles tear during Tuesday's OTA practice; though the belief is that he won't miss the entire season. It's a reminder that even preventing contact during offseason practices, players still have the potential to suffer significant injuries -- usually under the file "freak accidents".

It got us thinking. Which Bengals could the team ill-afford to lose? We have a list but we applied a generic criteria. We're not just naming the best Bengals players; rather the impact it would cause if they were injured, largely in relation to the current talent pool at their respective positions.

A.J. GREEN: Green is so athletically gifted that when he does something remarkable that redefines our understanding of physics, we're no longer amazed. We just expect it. Green's 162 career receptions is the second-most in NFL history during a player's first two seasons, sitting behind only Marques Colston (168). Along with tying a club-record five games with 100 yards receiving or more in 2012, Green was also named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month in September.

GENO ATKINS: One of the more obvious selections due to his overall three-year production in Cincinnati. Last year Atkins posted 12.5 quarterback sacks and four forced fumbles. Not to mention there's a lot of unproven talent behind Atkins on the depth chart.

ANDY DALTON: Just take a minute and realize who would replace him if he suffered a significant injury. That's Event Horizon levels of scary.

REGGIE NELSON: Though we could just say, "there's no one else" as our reasoning, Nelson is a significant contributor on a defense that's ranked inside the top-seven in consecutive seasons. Since 2011, Nelson has generated 170 tackles, seven interceptions, four forced fumbles, a touchdown and three quarterback sacks. It's not just the numbers that defines Nelson. His interception against Pittsburgh with :24 remaining in the fourth quarter eventually led to the Bengals' game-winning field goal, clinching a postseason berth. We're talking one of the greatest impacts of a single-game for the entire season.

LEON HALL: Already existing in a fairly deep talent pool at his position, Hall's production towards the end of the season last year was the image of the trustworthy Hall that we had been missing earlier that year. Coming off his recovery from a season-ending injury in 2011, as Hall's Achilles strengthened and his confidence with it, Hall displayed a game-changing impact starting with an interception against the Eagles that gave Cincinnati required momentum to win the game. Then Hall scored touchdowns against the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans during wild card weekend.

Terence Newman turns 35 years old and hasn't played a full 16-game season since 2010 and Adam Jones has only recently felt 100 percent healthy -- except he suffered a minor calf injury during the first week of OTAs. In fact last season was the first time that Jones played a full 16-game season. Except for his Achilles injury in 2011, Hall is stability and reliability; easily the best cornerback on the team.

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