The Bengals have made the decision to bring back running back and special teams ace Cedric Peerman from Injured Reserve. This effectively ends first round cornerback William Jackson III’s rookie season.
Both Peerman and Jackson were placed on IR at the start of the year due to preseason and training camp injuries respectively.
Peerman broke his forearm in the Bengals’ third preseason game and Jackson tore his pectoral muscle early on in training camp. It’s believed that both players were healthy enough to return, it was just a matter of who the Bengals felt could offer the most value at this point in the season. The Bengals could only bring one of the two players back this season off IR, by NFL rule.
Today starts a three week roster exemption that allows Peerman to practice with the team without counting toward the Bengals’ 53-man roster. That means technically, following running back Giovani Bernard’s placement on IR yesterday, the Bengals still have one vacant roster spot.
It’s likely the team will activate him to the roster before Sunday’s game against the Ravens so that the Bengals have three running backs able to play.
After Bernard’s ACL injury on Sunday, the Bengals were left with just Jeremy Hill and Rex Burkhead at running back. They figure to be the top two backs used going forward, with Peerman as the third. Peerman, who made the Pro Bowl last season for his special teams impact, will also return to his highly valuable role on Darrin Simmons’ unit.
Peerman has appeared in 84 games for the Bengals with just 1 start in 2014. Has has rushed 64 times for 334 yards, good for a 5.2 yard per carry average during his Bengals career. This is Peerman's eighth season in the league (though he’s classified as a seventh year player) after originally being drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft out of University of Virginia by the Baltimore Ravens. The Virginia native was cut by the Ravens in the final wave of roster cuts that year and claimed off waivers by the Browns. He spent a few weeks on the Browns' roster and practice squad before getting cut there, too. He then joined the Lions for the remainder of the season before latching on with the Bengals the following year. He's been in Cincinnati ever since. Peerman’s special teams prowess is what has kept him around in Cincinnati. He’s been a special teams captain in many of his seasons with the Bengals and his absence was greatly felt on special teams to start out the year. The unit has been getting better without him in recent weeks, in large part due to a combination of Burkhead and rookies, but it will be great to have Peerman back on the field and making plays. Peerman is a free agent at the end of the season, so this really his chance to show what he’s capable of.
The move signals that the Bengals are still keeping hope alive regarding their playoff chances this season. It was originally reported that the Bengals would bring back Jackson instead of Peerman from IR, but after Bernard’s injury, that changed. The Bengals will now hope to stay competitive in a weakened AFC North and win enough games to make it back to the playoffs for the sixth straight season. The odds of that happening are not high, but the Bengals are going to try and see it through.
Jackson returning would have been a sign that the Bengals were ready to see what they have in store for the future, rather than try to get better this year. Peerman returning also signals what was believed to be true in regards to Dre Kirkpatrick and that the injury he suffered on Sunday in the Bengals’ loss to the Bills is not major.
As for Jackson, the rookie cornerback and University of Houston product will need to wait until next season to make an impact on the field. This couldn’t have been an easy decision for the Bengals to make, and it’s unfortunate that only one of the two players (between him and Peerman) could return this season. We look forward to seeing Jackson on the field next year.