Obviously, during any high-intensity game in the National Football League, players face a constant threat of injury; it's not unlike a storm cloud with a white-knuckle grip and a spastic snap that has the potential of ruining an entire team's momentum.
Cincinnati suffered a few licks during Sunday's 34-21 win over the Buffalo Bills, however head coach Marvin Lewis expressed optimism that injured players should be ready for Pittsburgh on Nov. 1. The Bengals are off next week with a scheduled bye.
Linebacker Vincent Rey suffered an apparent ankle injury with 9:28 remaining in the third -- he was listed as questionable to return, but didn't. Despite being carted off from the sidelines, he returned in full regalia (including his helmet) as a team cheerleader. Rey is the signal caller in the defensive huddle and currently leads the Bengals with 49 tackles. Linebacker Rey Maualuga, who took over the play-calling after Rey's departure, is second with 33.
Defensive end Michael Johnson collapsed with 2:36 remaining in the fourth quarter, slamming his hand on the turf while initially situating himself in a four-point stance before flipping around onto his back. After an army of medical professionals took a look and reviewed the situation, two members of Cincinnati's training staff wrapped Johnson's arms around their shoulders and helped him to the Bengals locker room. According to ESPN, Johnson suffered a bone bruise on his lower left leg with Johnson adding "that's why we have the bye."
There were comments from fans that cornerback Darqueze Dennard took a knee towards the end of the game -- however he appeared fine during postgame interviews.
For Cincinnati, their week bye week couldn't have arrived at a more opportune moment, giving players like cornerbacks Leon Hall (back), who was a scratch against the Bills, and Adam Jones much needed rest.
Linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Sean Porter will be eligible to come off the physically unable to perform list, but there's limited optimism that they'll play soon.
Lewis left open the possibility that Burfict could play against the Steelers on Nov. 1, but having not practiced nor played for a full calendar year, it seems unlikely he'll be ready against Pittsburgh; which is completely out of character for the Bengals. Even if Vincent Rey is hurt, it seems unlikely that Cincinnati will risk Burfict's health by accelerating his rehabilitation unless they are completely comfortable.
According to NFL rules, Cincinnati will have three weeks to place Burfict on the practice field and several weeks after that before they're forced into a decision -- activate onto the 53-man roster, waive or keep on the PUP for the rest of the season.
Rookie offensive tackle Cedric Ogbuehi isn't expected to come off the team's Non-Injury Football List either.