Update: The Bengals have officially placed Darqueze Dennard on season-ending Injured/Reserve and activated first round draft pick Cedric Ogbuehi to the active roster.
The Cincinnati Bengals have lost cornerback Darqueze Dennard for the remainder of the 2015 season due to a shoulder injury suffered during Sunday's loss to the Arizona Cardinals, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.
Fears confirmed: Bengals CB Darqueze Dennard needs shoulder surgery and is out for the year, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 23, 2015
The injury in question happened during the third quarter after Dennard allowed a touchdown pass to Cardinals receiver John Brown. As Dennard was trying to defend the pass, he landed awkwardly on the ground and was favoring his right arm following the play. After going to the sideline to have it examined, Dennard then went back to the locker room with a trainer holding his arm to get x-rays. It's still unclear as to what exactly the injury is, so it's too early to say how long his rehabilitation from it will be.
If it's any kind of tear, that would be at least a four-month recovery timetable that shouldn't put Dennard's availability for the start of training camp next year in jeopardy. It may keep him sidelined or limited in offseason workouts, but should be something he can bounce back from.
Dennard, now in his second NFL season after being drafted 24th-overall out of Michigan State in the 2014 NFL Draft, was making his first career start at boundary corner Sunday night. He's been playing primarily behind Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick and Leon Hall as the fourth corner, but has played well in his limited snaps this season. Dennard played the majority of defensive snaps in the Bengals' Week 6 win in Buffalo at the slot with Hall missing that game due to injury. That game was also when Dennard recorded his first NFL interceptions off of EJ Manuel during a 34-21 Bengals win.
With Dennard now out, more playing time will be available for fourth-round rookie Josh Shaw. He's been getting more playing time as of late and ended up playing 18 snaps Sunday night with injuries to Dennard, as well as Jones, who missed the game due to a foot injury.
If Jones can't play this week against the St. Louis Rams, Shaw may be forced to start alongside Kirkpatrick on the boundary with Hall in the slot. Chris Lewis-Harris has also seen limited snaps this year, but played in just seven snaps Sunday and has rarely seen the field in his first four seasons with the Bengals.
It's also possible, and perhaps likely, that the Bengals call up undrafted free agent rookie Troy Hill from the practice squad, assuming Dennard is placed on season-ending I.R. Hill had a solid showing in the preseason and was close to making the final 53-man roster, but the Bengals opted to go with the more experienced Lewis-Harris as the sixth corner.
Whatever happens, losing Dennard at this point of the season is a really tough loss, especially with how poorly Kirkpatrick has been playing as of late. Dennard was making enough of a push that he may have eventually overtaken Kirkpatrick for that second starting boundary corner role, but that's looking like it's no longer a possibility, if Schefter's report proves true.