Bengals cornerback Darqueze Dennard is still recovering from his knee scope surgery from this offseason. Head coach Zac Taylor gave a slight update during his press conference on Tuesday.
“No [there is no timetable for Dennard’s return],” Taylor told reporters. “It’s week-to-week with him right now, to be honest. We want him, when he comes back, to be fully healthy. Right now he’s still week-to-week.”
When you combine that with Taylor calling wide receiver John Ross day-to-day moments afterwards, it seems like we still have a little bit of a wait for Dennard to get back on the field.
Dennard is actually on the PUP list at the moment, so if he remains there going into Week 1 of the regular season, he’ll automatically miss at least the first six games.
The Bengals are most likely willing to be patient with Dennard as they have players like B.W. Webb (signed this offseason after spending last season with defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo on the Giants) and Darius Phillips who looked impressive against the Chiefs.
Dennard is currently playing on a one-year deal with Cincinnati for $4.5 million, as he s betting on himself this season in hopes of a bigger contract in free agency next offseason. At some point, the question may become whether Dennard will be the starter if Webb and Phillips continue to impress while the incumbent starting slot corner still recovers.
Dennard made a name for himself last season as one of the best tackling slot cornerbacks in the NFL, and in the modern NFL where teams are running the ball with three wide receivers on the field, that is a very important skill for your nickel corner to have.
But Dennard hasn’t done much besides do some work on the rehab field during the offseason. The defense has changed a lot since last year, and these coaches have no reason to push Dennard to the starting position if he doesn’t earn it.
Being deep at corner is an incredible luxury for an NFL team though, and the Bengals allowing Dennard time to fully recover before running him out there to play could ultimately result in him playing better than if the team rushed him back out before he was ready.
It will be interesting to monitor Dennard’s situation. Taylor’s philosophy on player injuries has obviously been to be as vague and optimistic as possible, which doesn’t put added pressure on players to be healthy on a certain timetable. It makes plenty of sense from a team and player perspective, but it also opens up plenty of room for fans and media to make assumptions about what is really happening.
We should all probably just take a deep breath, but now that practices and games are being played, it is hard to not try to read into things.