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Bengals place Giovani Bernard on season-ending Injured Reserve

Giovani Bernard’s 2016 season is over.

Buffalo Bills v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

As expected, Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard’s season is over after he suffered a torn ACL during Sunday’s loss to the Buffalo Bills.

The team announced that Bernard is heading to season-ending Injured Reserve following his first major injury since entering the NFL in 2013. Defensive tackle Brandon Thompson is also coming off the PUP list, but is not yet part of the 53-man roster as the Bengals have three weeks (21 days) to watch him in practice before deciding to add him to the roster, keep him on PUP or cut him. This means the Bengals still have an open spot on their 53-man roster with Bernard’s move to IR.

This is a brutal way for Bernard’s season to end (and today is his birthday), not to mention ACL tears can take a year to fully recover from, making his return in 2017 a hard thing to project. Sources have said it was a clean tear and they expect him to be back for the 2017 preseason.

It was initially unclear that Bernard was injured after the game ended. Bernard never appeared to be injured during the game and was even part of the final drive that saw the Bengals get to the 27-yard line before a Hail Mary attempt went incomplete as time expired.

Bernard actually touched the ball five times on that final drive with four catches for 34 yards. He caught another pass that was wiped out due to offensive holding, and at no point did he appear to be favoring the knee during said drive. It’s now believed that he played for two additional plays after he tore his ACL.

Once Bernard exited the game, third-stringer Rex Burkhead entered and actually caught a 14-yard pass that moved the ball to the 33-yard line.

Burkhead will be the one who gets more touches with Bernard now out. They both are pass-catching backs who will get limited touches behind starter Jeremy Hill. Burkhead has 39 rushing yards on six attempts this season and 24 receiving yards on two catches.

It’s also possible the Bengals could elevate rookie running back Tra Carson from the practice squad. They also could look to sign a free agent running back. Last year’s fourth string running back Cedric Peerman is currently on I.R. and eligible to return this season. The Bengals would then end rookie cornerback William Jackson III’s season, if Peerman is chosen to return over him.

Bernard finishes his 2016 season with 91 rushes for 333 yards and two rushing touchdowns to go with 39 catches for 336 yards and one receiving score. This comes after the Bengals signed him to a nice extension this offseason, so at least he’s financially secure after suffering his first major NFL injury.

In four seasons with the Bengals, Bernard has 583 runs for 2,442 yards and 14 touchdowns. He’s also caught 187 passes for 1,671 yards and six scores. The former second-round pick out of North Carolina has been the No. 2 running back for much of his NFL career. He backed up BenJarvus Green-Ellis as a rookie before doing the same behind Jeremy Hill over the past three seasons.

Bernard has gotten a number of starts over his career, but the 5’9”, 220-pound back has gotten banged up quite a bit whenever he’s gotten a heavy workload, even though he’s missed just three games due to injury to this point in his career.

The Bengals will certainly miss Bernard for the rest of this season and we wish him a speedy recovery.