The Bengals have several key players recovering from injuries this offseason. The good news is most, if not all of them will be ready for the start of training camp, and some could return for OTAs as well.
Among them is starting safety George Iloka, who had a minor procedure done on his shoulder after the 2016 season ended. Anytime the word surgery is involved, there’s concern as to how much time said player will miss, but it doesn’t seem Iloka will miss much at all.
Iloka told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he is expected to be ready for training camp, which is now just three months away. The same is true of starting guard Clint Boling, who is recovering from a more serious shoulder surgery, though even it isn’t expected to sideline him for too long.
“Everything’s been going well. It’s coming along well,” Boling said. “I’ve been able to work out and do pretty much everything in the weight room. Just kind of keep taking the time and I should be back here pretty soon.”
Boling separated his shoulder in Week 4 against the Dolphins, but he still managed to play through the injury and start 14 games. He ended the season on I.R. and had surgery in late December.
Another Bengal recovering from surgery is defensive tackle Andrew Billings. After suffering a torn meniscus in training camp of his rookie season, Billings has now been cleared to participate in football activities. He wasn’t expected to play much in 2016 with Domata Peko, Pat Sims and Geno Atkins getting most of the defensive tackle snaps.
But now that Peko is gone, Billings is battling Sims for that vacant starting spot, so long as he can stay healthy.
“I’m good to go. One hundred percent. Back at it,” Billings said. “It’s just getting back to walking and all that, so your ankles feel weird because you haven’t been on them like that. My head is ‘get down,’ get the basics back down, get back moving and just get out there and get off.”
It’s good to see these three injured Bengals are on pace to be ready for training camp, as they will all have major roles this coming season. With veterans Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler having departed this offseason, Boling is now the Bengals’ best offensive lineman, and he’ll be counted on to take a bigger leadership role in 2017.
Iloka is one of the best players on this defense, but he’s coming off a so-so 2016 season following his big payday with Cincinnati. He needs to have a bigger 2017 season for this defense to get back to being a top-10 unit, which it’s been for much of Iloka’s tenure.