As the preseason rolls on, the Cincinnati Bengals continue to get healthier.
Already this week, the Bengals have seen George Iloka and Andre Smith return to practice. As well as Carl Lawson hit the field after reportedly being injured in the preseason opener. On top of that, rookie John Ross got in his first full practices after opening training camp limited due to offseason shoulder surgery. On Wednesday, we saw the return of KeiVarae Russell and Tra Carson plus, Iloka was in pads for the second day in a row as he makes his return from a hyperextended knee.
#Bengals CB KeiVarae Russell (concussion) back and doing work in 11s, as is RB Tra Carson (ankle) after only doing individual drills Tues.— Jay Morrison (@JayMorrisonCMG) August 16, 2017
KeiVarae Russell is in pads for the #Bengals today. As is George Iloka for the second day in a row.— Jim Owczarski (@JimOwczarski) August 16, 2017
Russell missed some time after suffering a concussion last week, or at least he was going through the concussion protocol. Seeing him back so quickly suggests it may have not even been a concussion, but merely the Bengals being extra cautious to make sure it didn’t become one.
The second-year cornerback is in a battle for one of the final defensive back spots on the 53-man roster. He would probably make it as a fifth corner right now, being that Adam Jones is suspended for Week 1 and won’t count against the 53-man roster.
It remains to be seen if Russell will keep his roster spot once Jones returns. That's why Russell needs to keep shining in the next three preseason games. The Bengals like keeping six cornerbacks, so the odds are good Russell remains on the 53-man roster once Jones returns.
As for Carson, he too is in a tough roster battle and could not afford to miss time due to injury. He had an impressive game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Friday. However, Carson suffered an ankle injury on Monday that looked worse than it seems to be.
Carson was injured on the same day that veteran Cedric Peerman returned from the Non-Football Injury list (NFI). It’s Peerman who Carson is battling for that fourth running back spot on the final roster. Peerman likely still has the slight edge, but if Carson keeps performing the way he did against Tampa Bay, it will be very hard to keep him off the final team. If nothing else, Carson is favored to return to the Bengals’ practice squad.
It’s great to see the Bengals getting healthy as the season approaches, which is the opposite of what many teams around the league are experiencing.