Bengals running back Giovani Bernard has torn his ACL, according to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport. This effectively ends his 2016 season.
The injury is reportedly to Bernard’s left knee. Bernard played up until the final seconds of the Bengals’ loss to the Bills. On the final drive of the game, Bernard caught five passes for 46 yards. A 7-yard catch was his final play of the game, and now, of the season.
It was not clear during the game that Bernard was injured, but following the loss, reporters in the Bengals locker room shared news that players were consoling Bernard and that he was getting an MRI.
It’s still not clear watching back when the injury occurred. Bernard caught that final pass, stood up, jogged back into the huddle, stayed in for the next play (on which he was used as a blocker), and then exited and had Rex Burkhead enter in his place. The Bengals likely didn’t want to use Jeremy Hill in that situation as he’s not as effective as a pass catcher.
Before the above play and the blocking play that followed, there was this play, which Rapoport now believes (after earlier reporting it was the same play mentioned above) is when Bernard tore his ACL.
Bernard finishes his fourth NFL season with 316 yards rushing, 296 yards receiving and 3 total touchdowns.
With Bernard out for the remainder of the season, it’s possible the Bengals could elevate rookie Tra Carson from the practice squad. They also could look to sign a free agent running back. Burkhead also figures to get more snaps as the No. 2 back. Burkhead has 39 rushing yards on 6 attempts this season and 24 receiving yards on two catches. One of those catches came today for 14 yards in the closing minutes of the game.
As ACL injuries are tricky, there’s no guarantee Bernard will be healthy to start the 2017 season and will likely spend nearly all of the offseason rehabbing this injury. We wish Bernard a speedy recovery and look forward to seeing him back in stripes next year.