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Bengals Linebacker Keith Rivers Season Is Over: Placed On The Reserve/Non-Football Injury List

Cincinnati Bengals outside linebacker Keith Rivers was finally placed on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury list, announced the team on Tuesday, without participating in a single game this season -- which is similar to Injured Reserve. When Rivers arrived in training camp this season, he surprised many (at least the media and fans) after recently under-going wrist surgery that was originally expected to keep him out through September. The surgery was later described by one team source as a "rebuilding of the wrist."

After sitting on the Active/Non-Football Injury list throughout preseason, Rivers was placed on the Reserve/NFI list at the start of the regular season, opening a spot on the 53-man roster, though making him ineligible through the first six weeks into the 2011 regular season. After being granted an exception to rejoin the team earlier this month, the Bengals were forced to make a decision by Tuesday's deadline -- place him on the 53-man roster, Injured Reserve or releasing him through an injury settlement.

This won't be the first time Rivers' season will end with an injury. In 2008 the Bengals ninth overall draft pick suffered a broken jaw during week seven against the Pittsburgh Steelers, ending a rookie season where he lead the team with 51 tackles.

Despite being the source of fan frustration for his lack of big plays, during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, Rivers ranked second in tackles behind Dhani Jones each season. Additionally Rivers posted the lowest average yards on tackles compared to the team's other linebackers.

Signed through the 2012 season, Rivers' return would be obvious insurance with Manny Lawson and Brandon Johnson playing on one-year contracts that will expire at the end of the season. Depending on what the team does in free agency or the NFL draft, it's possible that Rivers could be released before next season, but more likely he'll return as one of five linebackers (Rey Maualuga, Thomas Howard, Dontay Moch and Roddrick Muckelroy) signed beyond the 2011 season.