The first injury was to h-back Ryan Hewitt who was injured after a low hit to his knee by Browns safety Jabrill Peppers. Hewitt had caught 16-yard pass to the Cincinnati 41-yard line before being hit by Peppers. The play started a drive that resulted in a 41-yard field goal by Randy Bullock, giving the Bengals a 24-0 lead.
Hewitt left the game, was examined by trainers and was later ruled out. That’s never a good sign, but because this was already a blowout, perhaps the Bengals just played it safe and kept him out.
Either way, this will be someone to monitor going forward. Hewitt has been the starting h-back since joining the Bengals as an undrafted free agent out of Stanford in 2014. He’s been utilized in multiple rolls in Cincinnati, including at fullback and tight end.
Mostly used as a blocker, Hewitt has just 20 career catches for 198 yards and no scores in 50 career games. He’s missed just one game in his career thus far, so it would be a tough blow to see him lost to a significant injury just as the offense is clicking this season.
What makes this injury worse is Tyler Eifert is out for an unknown length of time due to a back injury. That makes the tight end/h-back depth very thin going forward.
The good news is Cincinnati already has a promising replacement for Hewitt on the roster in Cethan Carter. The undrafted free agent out of Nebraska enjoyed a good training camp and preseason, mostly as a run blocker, though he occasionally displayed some nice pass-catching skills.
Later in the game, T.J. Johnson left with what was announced as a neck injury. He went to the locker room for further examinations. Thankfully, the game was almost over, so there was no need for him to come back in.
Johnson has been starting in place of Trey Hopkins at right guard. The Bengals actually benched Johnson for a brief period in this game to see what Alex Redmond could do. Johnson would come back and replace Redmond before getting injured. The good news is Hopkins returned to practice this week, so the Bengals may already have Johnson’s replacement.
You hate to lose any player to injury, but Hewitt and Johnson are probably one of the easier starters to replace if they miss time.