The Bengals’ defense came into Sunday’s game fairly healthy with Vontaze Burfict returning to the field after missing a couple weeks with a concussion.
Coming off a dominating win against the Raiders, it seemed like a good chance for the Bengals to finish 2018 strong with decent showings against a couple of divisional rivals, but things went south really fast against the Browns.
Amidst the poor showing, there were a couple injuries that could affect the Bengals’ defense next week against the Steelers.
Officially, this is Burfict’s seventh concussion of his career, but his head coach Marvin Lewis doesn’t seem phased by that.
There’s no denying that this is a troublesome injury for Burfict, as it should put his future in the NFL in doubt. Usually when players start suffering concussions frequently, it means the end of that player’s career is close. Then again, with the way he left the field by swiping away a Bengals trainer, he may be sidelined for other reasons beyond his health (which might be wishful thinking).
The Bengals are left with only a few linebackers if Burfict can’t play next week. Hardy Nickerson took over for Burfict in their nickel defense and Brandon Bell played for him in their base defense. The team already had to activate Chris Worley after they placed Malik Jefferson on injured reserve and Jordan Evans wasn’t healthy enough to be active either. Nick Vigil, Vincent Rey and Nickerson are the teams top linebackers going into Pittsburgh if Evans can’t go again.
Kirkpatrick adds another list to his injuries on what has been a frustrating season for him to try and stay healthy. This time he went down trying to get Jarvis Landry out of bounds, but he hurt his shoulder in the process. He was originally questionable to return, but was later downgraded to out.
In his absence, Kirkpatrick was replaced by rookie Darius Phillips, who had one pass breakup on the day. It’s possible that the Bengals will end up shutting down their highest paid cornerback for Week 17 to get a better look at Phillips, although you could tell what kind of impact that would have on the defense against Pittsburgh’s receivers.
- CB KeiVarae Russell
- CB Tony McRae
- LB Jordan Evans
- OL Cedric Ogbuehi
- WR Tyler Boyd
- TE Jordan Franks
- DE Kasim Edebali
Boyd is the biggest name on the list. It was doubtful he’d be able to play after suffering a knee injury last week, but his absence was obvious as it took the Bengals almost the entire game to establish a passing game.
Evans was also a hard inactive after Burfict’s injury, and the Bengals have to hope he is able to return next week as the linebackers would be in a very tough spot without him.