It was a combination of sadness and joy on Tuesday as the Bengals watched one player’s season end while another player’s begins.
Giovani Bernard was sent to Injured Reserve after tearing his ACL on Sunday, ending his 2016 season. On the flip side, today was the final day the Bengals could clear defensive tackle Brandon Thompson to practice from the Physically Unable to Perform list, by NFL rule, before his season would be ruled over. The Bengals have done that and now Thompson can practice, on a roster exemption for the next 21 days while not taking up a spot on the 53-man roster. Thompson has spent the entire season on the PUP list after tearing his ACL in Week 17 of the 2015 season.
The team also announced that long-snapper Tyler Ott has been signed to the practice squad. That comes as a response to Clark Harris going down with a groin injury on Sunday, which could sideline him this week. That means Ott could go from street free agent, to the Bengals’ practice squad, to being the team’s starting long-snapper in a matter of a week. Such is life in the NFL.
As for Thompson, he can now practice for the next 21 days with the team for the first time since Week 17 of the 2015 season. Once those three weeks pass, the Bengals must either activate Thompson to the 53-man roster, cut him, or simply put him on I.R., ending his season.
That means we still may not see Thompson play in an actual game at all, or, that he could join the active roster as late as Week 15. Even if his return comes that late in the season, it’s still would be great to see Thompson playing on an NFL field after his 2015 campaign ended with a devastating injury.
Since 2013, Thompson has appeared in 36 games, including seven starts during the 2013 season when Atkins went down with a season-ending ACL tear. Thompson finished that season with 1.5 sacks, 23 tackles, and one pass defense. He showed he could be a decent starting tackle in this league, and someone who may have gotten that chance this offseason had he hit free agency healthy.
Ott, a 6’3”, 250-pound long-snapper out of Harvard, is classified as a first-year NFL player. He has one game on an NFL regular-season roster, having snapped for the New York Giants in their 2015 regular season finale vs the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Bengals have had a vacant spot on the practice squad since Week 9 when Matt Lengel was signed by the Patriots off the Bengals’ practice squad. The Bengals now have a vacant spot on their roster after Bernard’s move today to Injured Reserve. It’s possible the Bengals will make a corresponding move by activating either William Jackson or Cedric Peerman off of IR.
Here’s the Bengals’ current practice squad: