On August 1, during the opening days of training camp, Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard went down with an ankle injury.
At the time, head coach Marvin Lewis suggested Dennard would be off-the-field for about a week. Nearly three weeks later, Dennard hasn’t shown any signs of being ready to return to action and was seen in a walking boot earlier this week.
Now, in an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Dennard is saying his goal is to be back by the Bengals’ 2016 season opener on September 11.
The cornerback said he and the team are following a rehabilitation plan, and the goal remains the Sept. 11 regular-season opener in New York against the Jets.
“We’re just continuing on the plan and we’ll see how it is,” he said. “I’m really, really ready to play. It’s frustrating. But we’ve got a plan and we’ve just got to believe in the plan and the goal; the most important game is game one of the season, so that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Dennard has been injured in each of his three training camps with the Bengals. In his rookie year of 2014, Dennard battled hamstring and hip issues during training camp. In 2015, as he was looking to take on Dre Kirkpatrick for a starting role with the team, he injured his groin during a joint practice with the Giants and then aggravated it in ensuing preseason game against New York. Dennard also injured his shoulder and underwent season-ending surgery last year after one of his best games of the year against the Arizona Cardinals. He spent much of the offseason recovering from that surgery, but was able to train for a few months before suffering his latest injury.
It’s been a series of unfortunate events for the Bengals’ third year cornerback who’s expected to take on a bigger role this year as the nickel cornerback. But, he’ll need to get on the field to do that.
Hopefully, Dennard is ready to get back on the field sooner than later to prepare for the Bengals’ Week 1 matchup with the Jets. If he’s not back in time, it will likely be Josh Shaw or Chris Lewis-Harris taking over his role until he’s back and ready to play.
“It’s definitely frustrating – it’s really, really frustrating actually,” Dennard told the Enquirer. “I’ve put in a lot of time and effort this offseason and coming back from the shoulder. Me getting a nick like this is frustrating. Definitely frustrating. But God has a plan and everything happens for a reason. It’ll work out.”