The Cincinnati Bengals experienced some bad news on Monday when C.J. Uzomah went down with a scary injury to his lower leg.
The third-year tight end suffered what appears to be a foot or ankle injury in the middle of practice. He was unable to put any weight on his foot before being immediately carted off the field, which is always an ominous sight.
CJ Uzomah was blocking and injured his left foot/ankle. He didn't put any weight on it. pic.twitter.com/TU2Q4wO4pK— James Rapien (@JamesRapien) August 7, 2017
#Bengals TE CJ Uzomah carted off the practice field, looks like a lower leg injury, seems to be in a lot of pain. @Enquirer pic.twitter.com/WoLJbRJslE— Sam Greene (@SGdoesit) August 7, 2017
Uzomah is entering his third year with the Bengals, who took him 157th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft. The former Auburn Tiger rarely saw the field as a rookie, but he emerged to become a significant contributor in 2016, mostly in place of the injured Tyler Eifert.
The 6’6”, 265-pound Uzomah racked up 16 catches for 187 yards during his first five games. Once Eifert returned, Uzomah’s role lessened while he was also sidelined with a calf injury. He ended up missing five games and caught just nine passes the rest of the season, causing him to fall behind Eifert and Tyler Kroft on the depth chart.
Uzomah did have three catches on three targets for 13 yards and one touchdown in the team's Week 17 game against the Baltimore Ravens, which was also his first NFL score. It looked like he was poised to grow into a solid NFL tight end that the Bengals could rely on next to Eifert. That now appears to be in jeopardy for the 2017 season, though, we’re currently awaiting more details on the severity of the injury.
The Bengals are already thin at the tight end position with just four true tight ends on the roster, though h-back Ryan Hewitt has been playing there as well. Seventh-round rookie Mason Schreck has been a mixed bag in camp thus far, so if Uzomah misses significant time, the Bengals may look to sign or even trade for another tight end.
Uzomah being out would also mean Kroft almost certainly wins the second tight end spot next to Eifert in big formations. Both Kroft and Uzomah have battled for that spot in each of the past two seasons, and this was shaping up to be a fierce battle in camp and the preseason.
Let’s hope Uzomah is only out for a brief period of time and that this injury isn’t too serious.