The Bengals have dealt with injuries hindering their previous two first-round picks. Both John Ross and Billy Price had upper body ailments prevent them from fully completing their first offseason in a healthy state.
Rodney Anderson wasn’t the Bengals’ latest first-round pick, but had he not gotten injured last season, he may’ve been someone else’s.
Anderson was drafted with the Bengals’ third sixth-round pick in last month’s NFL Draft, and he has been sidelined ever since he tore his ACL last September. The injury prevented him from participating in the NFL combine and Oklahoma’s pro day. He was also forced to watch rookie minicamp from the sidelines this past weekend.
When asked about the expectations for Anderson, head coach Zac Taylor didn’t hide his confidence in Anderson’s ability and eventual full recovery:
“He’s a guy that we thought highly of, with the stuff that he could put on tape when he did play in college. He’s in the rehab phase, and we knew that when we drafted him that he wouldn’t be practicing this offseason. He’s in there with Coach Singleton (Bengals running backs coach Jemal Singleton) getting the mental part of it down. I have no worries that he will be able to do that and continue with the rehab, and so when training camp rolls around we’ll see where he is at that point.”
Last week marked eight months since Anderson’s injury, and by the time training camp rolls around, it’ll be just over 10 months. It wouldn’t be improbable for Anderson to return to the field in late July, but considering the circumstances, there’s little need to rush Anderson back.
In front of Anderson on the unofficial depth chart is Joe Mixon, Giovani Bernard and fellow rookie Trayveon Williams. First-year player Quinton Flowers and undrafted rookies Jordan Ellis and Darrin Hall also give the offense plenty of bodies at the position for training camp and the preseason.
Two years ago, we saw Bernard look 100% just eight months removed from tearing his ACL late in the 2016 season, and it’s not uncommon to see players return to form in less than a year following the injury.
Anderson could very well be cleared to practice in two-months’ time, but the investment in him was for the long-term, and Taylor and his staff will take the patient route over the hurried one.