The mystery of Brandon Wilson remains just that; a mystery with no end in sight.
The rookie defensive back has yet to practice due to a knee injury sustained during rookie minicamp. When training camp opened, Wilson was placed on the Non-Football Injury (NFI) list, where he remains heading into the second week of the preseason. It’s unclear what exactly the injury is, other than it being knee-related. Regardless, he’s still not practicing and doesn’t appear to have a return date in sight.
Now, it appears Wilson may not be coming off the injury list anytime soon, according to Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson.
Wilson (knee) hasn't been on the field and he may not get there this year.
If nothing else, this would indicate there’s a very real chance Wilson remains on the NFI list to open the regular season, making him ineligible to play for the first six regular-season games. That would, however, keep Wilson from occupying a spot on the 53-man roster spot to open the year.
That would be good news for other defensive backs fighting for roster spots, including KeiVarae Russell, Bene Benwikere, Demetrious Cox and Tony McRae. Russell has been the most impressive of that group in training camp and the preseason, as he’s fighting to be a sixth corner on the final roster.
In our most recent 53-man roster projection, Russell was waived as the Bengals kept just five cornerbacks to go with five safeties, which included Wilson. If the latter is on NFI, that frees up a spot for Russell to make it as a sixth cornerback if the Bengals keep just four safeties.
Wilson missing regular-season time would also mean more safety reps for Josh Shaw, who is also contending for the starting slot cornerback spot. Shaw has gotten plenty of work at safety. He’ll continue to get more reps there with George Iloka still sidelined with a knee injury, though Iloka isn’t expected to miss Week 1 of the regular season.
This is already an unfortunate start to Wilson’s NFL career and it would be even worse if he ends up missing most, if not his entire rookie season, especially after the Bengals traded up to select him in Round 6 of this year’s NFL Draft. Wilson is a very talented player who played cornerback, safety and even running back with the Houston Cougars.
The fact that Wilson was someone the Bengals made a rare trade up to select suggests they’re very high on him, but we may not see his potential play out on the field in 2017.