The Cincinnati Bengals have been hit hard on the injury front this week, but it doesn't appear to be as bad as it initially seemed.
Rookie cornerback William Jackson III suffered a pectoral injury on Monday that was thought to be of the season-ending variety. Jackson has since gotten a second opinion on the injury, and it looks like his 2016 season may not be over after all.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis revealed on Thursday that Jackson will have surgery to reattach the pectoral muscle, and that he could return this season. This appears to be good news in the sense that it's only the muscle that's damaged. If it were the tendon, that would probably end his season.
“He’s going to have a surgery this is going to re-attach his pectoral muscle, but we anticipate that he has an opportunity still to play this football season,” Lewis said on Thursday. “It’s just a matter of how his body heals. He had a little more glide in his stride this morning because he sees some light at the end of the tunnel.”
The Bengals are likely to start Dre Kirkpatrick and Adam Jones at the boundary cornerback spots with Darqueze Dennard as the slot man. Without Jackson, Josh Shaw figures to see an increased role at corner after he'd been working a safety in training camp.
After them, it's Chykie Brown, Darius Hillary, Chris Lewis-Harris and Corey Tindal fighting for those next one or two spots. Safety Jimmy Wilson also has experience as a slot corner.
It also looks like starting tight end Tyler Kroft will be able to return right around the regular-season opener. Lewis said as much on Thursday in that the opener is when he thinks Kroft can return by.
On Tuesday, Kroft suffered a knee sprain that will keep him out as little as four weeks, but could extend to six weeks. That would be really bad news with Tyler Eifert sidelined for the foreseeable future. Though, Eifert does now have his walking boot off, so he will begin the rehab process.
With both Eifert and Kroft sidelined for the time being, the Bengals could add another tight end at some point in the coming days or weeks. If nothing else, they just need another body out there.
For now, John Peters, C.J. Uzomah, Matt Lengel are the only other true tight ends on the roster. H-backs/fullbacks Ryan Hewitt and Andrew Bonnet also have gotten work at tight end. Perhaps we'll see more of offensive lineman Jake Fisher as a blocking tight end as well.