The Bengals are on pace to be the NFL's most injury-plagued team in 2016.
The latest victim of this onslaught of injuries is Brandon LaFell. The veteran wide receiver has been in and out of practice over the past two weeks and missed Friday's preseason opener against the Vikings.
Now, Fox Sports’ Mike Garafolo reports that LaFell is dealing with a torn ligament in his hand, which could lead to surgery.
Bengals WR Brandon LaFell is dealing with a torn ligament in his hand, sources say. Surgery possible. Wouldn't be a season-ender.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) August 16, 2016
As Garafolo reports, surgery for a minor ligament issue isn't necessarily a season-ender, depending on the severity of it. Players deal with all sorts of ligament issues all the time, and sometimes, it's minor enough that players can play through the issue.
That's what LaFell has clearly been trying to do while practicing on and off over the past two weeks. After practicing in a limited role on Monday, LaFell sat out Tuesday's session, which was effectively a walkthrough. That's a good sign LaFell won't play Thursday night against the Detroit Lions.
The Bengals medical staff and LaFell must figure out as soon as possible whether LaFell should have the surgery or not. Assuming it knocks him out for at least a few weeks, we could see LaFell miss critical opening games like at the New York Jets, at the Pittsburgh Steelers and home vs the Denver Broncos.
According to Geoff Hobson, Marvin Lewis expects LaFell to play in Week 1.
Lewis doesn't expect LaFell to miss opener— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) August 16, 2016
But, if he gets surgery that doesn’t seem to be the case.
#Bengals WR Brandon LaFell likely to wait a week before deciding if he'll play thru hand/ligament inuryj or do surgery. Out 6 wks if surgery— Jason Cole (@JasonColeBR) August 16, 2016
One thing is for sure, and that's the Bengals cannot catch a break right now on the injury front, including at wide receiver. LaFell joins Jake Kumerow (hamstring), and Mario Alford (ankle) as Bengals receivers currently shelved for unspecified amounts of time, not to mention James Wright still working his way back from major knee surgery and Cody Core hurt his finger on Monday, but looks fine and should play on Thursday.
The Bengals simply can’t handle any further injuries at an already inexperienced receiver position.