The Cincinnati Bengals are making a roster move at offensive tackle, but it’s not the move many fans wanted or expected. Early Wednesday morning veteran offensive tackle and former Bengals player Eric Winston sent out this tweet, indicating he was returning to the Bengals.
The team has now made it official and has moved offensive tackle Jake Fisher to Injured Reserve with a Non-Football Illness. It sounds pretty serious for Fisher who went to the hospital mid-way through the Bengals’ game in Jacksonville.
Indications are Bengals believe Fisher can return next season— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) November 8, 2017
I specifically asked Lewis on Monday if Fisher’s illness was serious and he said “It’s not as serious as I would think it is.” However it’s possible that there were still tests being run at the time that hadn’t been completed.— Katherine Terrell (@Kat_Terrell) November 8, 2017
During his Monday press conference, Lewis said this of Fisher.
“He just wasn’t feeling well,” Lewis said. “He’s (dealt with this) as we’ve been going through the season. It’s something that the doctors are monitoring very closely. Yesterday they thought they needed to pull him from the game and run some tests, so they took him to the hospital to run tests.”
The vagueness in which Lewis answered the question was initially concerning, but the fact he shrugged it off gave the hope that Fisher was fine. While we still don’t know what exactly Fisher is dealing with, it is clear that it is more serious than initially expected.
As for Winston, he has a long history with the Bengals. He started the offseason on the Bengals’ initial roster, but didn’t make the final cut to the 53-man roster. Winston first joined the Bengals mid-way through the 2014 season when Andre Smith went down with an injury. He last played for the Bengals in 2016 and started two games that season. He was a key rotational lineman and mentor for the young Bengals tackles, Cedric Ogbuehi and Fisher, who he’s now replacing on the roster. Fisher has started six total games for the Bengals from 2014-2016. He is the current president of the NFLPA.
The Loss of Fisher for the season is a serious one. The Bengals had been rotating Ogbuehi and Smith in at tackle with Fisher, but it will be hard to continue that without Fisher. The Bengals have struggled to keep Andy Dalton protected all season, and this isn’t going to help anything. Whether the Bengals keep rotating offensive tackles remains to be seen, but it is hard to imagine they will throw Winston out there unless they have to.
This injury really magnifies just how ill-prepared Cincinnati was coming into the season at offensive tackle. They put all their hopes for this season into Ogbuehi and Fisher becoming the franchise tackles they envisioned when they drafted the two back in the 2015 draft. Neither player really showed they were ready last season to take on this role, but the Bengals still brought Smith back as the only form of insurance. At this point, it is clear that going into the offseason the Bengals need to make protecting their quarterback a priority.
Update 12:10 p.m. ET:
In his Wednesday press conference, Marvin Lewis commented on Fisher’s injury and the long-term impact (or non-impact) it will have. The situation definitely seems serious, but no real hints were offered as to what is wrong with the Bengals’ offensive tackle.
Marvin Lewis says Jake Fisher's illness should not impact his career in the future. #Bengals— Elise Jesse (@Elise_JesseWLWT) November 8, 2017
#Bengals HC Marvin Lewis will not get into specifics re: Jake Fisher, only allowing that a procedure & medication are needed to recover.— Jim Owczarski (@JimOwczarski) November 8, 2017
Hopefully Fisher gets better soon! We wish him a speedy recovery.
Update Thursday 8:00 a.m.:
On Sirius XM this morning, Lewis acknowledged the issue Fisher is facing, which is an irregular heartbeat. He will need to have a procedure done this week to fix it.