After breaking two fingers during the Cincinnati Bengals’ preseason finale last Thursday night, backup quarterback Jeff Driskel will require a multi-week rehabilitation period to heal up his throwing hand.
After initially making the 53-man roster on Saturday, making him eligible for the Injured Reserve designation to return, Driskel was placed on IR on Monday.
The injury happened in the second quarter on a screen pass. After releasing the ball, Driskel was hit immediately by two Indianapolis Colts defenders, and while falling to the ground, Driskel landed awkwardly on his wrist. It was an unfortunate development for the quarterback, but could actually be a good thing for the Bengals who now get to keep Driskel and have him on IR while another player takes his spot on the 53-man roster. As a third string quarterback, Driskel likely wouldn’t have seen the field this year even if he was on the 53-man roster, but the person taking his spot on the roster could see some action.
The Bengals are clearly showing a commitment to developing the former Florida and Louisiana Tech quarterback long-term after claiming him off waivers in 2016 and keeping him on the 53-man roster for the entire 2016 NFL season. In recent years, the Bengals have typically kept two quarterbacks on the roster, but kept three last year to keep Driskel in the fold.
This preseason, his first in Cincinnati, Driskel went 14/21 for 164 yards and 1 touchdown, a 66.7 completion percentage. That included eight first downs, a long of 30 yards and a quarterback rating of 106.1. He also had 9 rushing attempts for 63 yards and 1 touchdown.
With AJ McCarron hitting free agency next year, the Bengals may see Driskel as a long-term backup option, which is why they’re sticking with him during his injury and making him eligible for the designation to return. If the Bengals want, Driskel is eligible to return to the 53-man roster in Week 9, if the team wants to use one of its two IR designation to return tags on him. The team will likely assess the status of other injuries at that point. No other player on the Bengals’ IR list at this time is eligible to return later in the year.
The Bengals have not yet announced a corresponding roster move, meaning there’s now one spot open on the 53-man roster.