The Cincinnati Bengals finished the 2015 NFL regular season with just four players going to injured reserve.
Unfortunately, the fourth guy to end up there occurred after of an injury sustained on the final day of the regular season. Linebacker Emmanuel Lamur was placed on season-ending Injured/Reserve on Monday following a knee injury suffered Sunday in a 24-16 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
In his place, the team has signed rookie linebacker Trevor Roach from the practice squad. This is the first time Roach has been called up during his first professional season after signing with Cincinnati as an undrafted free agent out of Nebraska this past offseason.
As for Lamur, he becomes just the second Bengals player to receive significant snaps and end up on I.R. this season. Seldom-used backup receiver James Wright and linebacker Marquis Flowers landed on I.R. earlier this season after suffering preseason injuries. Cornerback Darqueze Dennard was pushing himself into the starting lineup before a shoulder injury ended his season back in Week 11.
But of those four, none have suffered as tough of a break as Lamur just did. The Bengals' defense has been one of the NFL's best this season, and Lamur has quietly had a good season while playing in every game for this unit. During Sunday's win over Baltimore, Lamur injured his knee on a kickoff in the second quarter as he was attempting to make a block, but went down clutching his knee before having to be helped to the sideline while putting no weight on his leg.
Lamur was then carted to the locker room before the team quickly ruled him out with a knee injury that was clearly serious. Making matters worse for Lamur is he's set to become a free agent this offseason. He probably wasn't going to get a big contract, but this is still going to be a costly injury.
With Lamur out, A.J. Hawk will be the full-time strongside backer with rookie P.J. Dawson possibly getting more snaps. We'll also likely see Vincent Rey, who has played mainly on the weakside and in them middle, get some snaps there as well.
As for Roach, he joined the Bengals after a standout career with the Cornhuskers. In 2014, Roach accounted for 63 tackles, 9.5 tackles for loss and two fumble recoveries. In the Huskers' game against Michigan State, Roach was responsible for 18 tackles, four of which were for a loss.
Roach then went on to have a great preseason with the Bengals before ultimately being waived during final roster cuts, and immediately signed to the practice squad. While he hasn't been on the 53-man roster this season, he has been practicing with the team all season, so he should know the playbook well.
In the end, losing Lamur probably isn't going to be the difference in Cincinnati losing or winning this week against Pittsburgh if the rest of the defense steps up and helps account for Lamur's loss; regardless, it still hurts.