Heading into the Cincinnati Bengals’ preseason finale, five players of note were injured and unable to suit up.
Jeremy Hill is dealing with an ankle injury, suffered in the third preseason game. He’s expected to be ready for Week 1 against the Baltimore Ravens on September 10, a game that’s now just nine days away.
Fellow running back Tra Carson also failed to suit up on Thursday. His injury is undisclosed and he’s not assured a spot on the 53-man roster. But, he’s also expected to be healed up before Week 1, if he does in fact make the roster.
At tight end, both rookie Mason Schreck and third year player C.J. Uzomah were unable to play. Schreck suffered an MCL injury in the third preseason game that’s threatening his chances of even making the practice squad. Uzomah sprained his ankle in training camp and is not expected to be ready for Week 1, but should be soon after. Also at tight end, Tyler Eifert is dealing with tendinitis in his knee, but it’s minor and not expected to threaten his ability to practice or play.
At safety, Shawn Williams is dealing with a dislocated elbow. All signs point to him missing a few games but returning in the first month of the regular season. Fellow starting safety George Iloka failed to play a preseason down due to a hyperextended knee suffered on the third day of training camp, but he is expected to play in Week 1. He was not among the listed players unable to play due to injury on Thursday.
Those were the injuries coming into thursday night’s loss to the Colts in the Bengals’ preseason finale. Unfortunately, two injuries of note occurred during that game.
First, No. 9 overall draft pick John Ross exited the game with a knee injury. The rookie’s final (and only second) play of the game was a 25-yard pickup on a reverse late in the first quarter. He was seen along the sidelines on the training table before walking on his own power back to the locker room. He remerged moments later without a helmet, clearly done for the night. He’s expected to undergo an MRI and further testing this morning to determine the severity of his injury.
“It’s football. Things happen all the time,” Ross said after the game, via Bengals.com. “I don’t know anything … I just have to wait to see what they tell me.”
Ross was not seen with crutches after the game, which was a hopeful sign.
The other big injury on Thursday night was to third string quarterback Jeff Driskel. It was assumed Driskel was a lock to make the roster and that the Bengals would keep three players at the quarterback position for the second year in a row. Now, Driskel may land on Injured Reserve on Monday after he potentially broke his thumb in the second quarter of Thursday’s game.
According to Bengals.com, “it's feared his thumb is broken.”
If that proves true, he’ll likely open the year on Injured Reserve, but first, make the 53-man roster. To be eligible to return later in the year with one of the two designations to return, Driskel must first make the 53-man roster and remain there until Monday.
This year, the NFL has changed the rule for two players to be allowed to return from IR.
Driskel’s injury could be a blessing in disguise as he would be a weekly gameday inactive pending an injury to starting quarterback Andy Dalton or backup AJ McCarron. Now, he can remain with the Bengals while on the injury list and if he’s healed up and needed later in the year, the team can move him onto the roster after eight weeks.
While no injury suffered by a Bengals player this summer seems to be season-ending, the preseason was not kind to the Bengals considering the injuries to key players like Williams and Ross as well as the suspension to Vontaze Burfict. He’ll miss the first three games of the year due to what the NFL believes was an illegal hit in Week 2 of the preseason.
Let’s hope the Bengals heal up quickly in the next nine days and prepare to take on Baltimore in just more than one week for the first home opener of the Andy Dalton-A.J. Green era.