The Bengals can’t catch a break.
After a strong preseason, defensive tackle Marcus Hardison will spend the 2016 season on Injured Reserve after suffering a shoulder injury at the end of the Jaguars game in the third week of the preseason. The second-year defensive tackle was expected to see snaps in the upcoming season after he spent the 2015 season as a weekly inactive.
Hardison’s versatility as a potential swing-lineman, as well as his prowess as a pass-rusher and run-stuffer left fans excited about his potential heading into the 2016 season. It seemed as though Hardison’s lack of time on the field in 2015 was more so a product of his being buried behind Geno Atkins and Wallace Gilberry on the depth chart than anything else. In fact, he looked like a solid 2016 breakout candidate before the injury.
With Hardison on IR, Margus Hunt’s position as the Bengals’ starting nickel defensive tackle is all but guaranteed. Additionally, DeShawn Williams will likely serve as Atkins’ backup, at least until Brandon Thompson returns from the Physically Unable to Perform list.
This is a big blow to the Bengals’ depth at defensive tackle and in general for the second year defensive tackle who didn’t play a snap in 2015 after injuring his knee in the preseason.