Among the key players dealing with injury is Vontaze Burfict, who is battling a concussion suffered in Week 15. After missing Saturday’s loss to the Texans, it looks like the Bengals will play it safe and hold Burfict out in Week 17, according to ESPN reporter Bob Holtzman.
The Bengals linebacker self-reported the concussion following that Week 15 loss to Pittsburgh after being cleared by the doctors during the game. He has yet to practice since then and probably won’t this week.
Burfict has had a history of concussions, though it mostly stems from his 2014 season, which saw him suffer two concussions in the first two games. That was part of an injury-plagued season that also led to him missing the first six games of 2015 while recovering from microfracture knee surgery. There’s no sense in risking another concussion against the Ravens this Sunday in a game that has no bearing for either team, other than playing for pride.
It’s an unfortunate end for a great season for Burfict. In just 11 games, Burfict has racked up 101 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, and one forced fumble. He enters Week 17 ranked as Pro Football Focus’ sixth-best linebacker (which includes middle and outside linebackers).
This also came after Burfict opened the season with a three-game suspension for incurring too many player-safety infractions last year. He responded by getting back to his All-Pro level of play down the stretch of this season, and he should continue that in 2017.
With Burfict likely out this week, expect the Bengals to rely heavily on Vincent Rey and Karlos Dansby as their top two linebackers, while Rey Maualuga and Nick Vigil will split snaps behind them. P.J. Dawson, Marquis Flowers and Trevor Roach may also see limited snaps. Dawson was added to the roster from the practice squad last week, while Roach made the jump earlier this week.