After one month of training camp and three preseason games, the Bengals are relatively very healthy at the end of August. Their entire starting lineup, except one player, appears set to debut against the Minnesota Vikings on September 12th.
That one player is cornerback Trae Waynes.
Waynes, entering the second year of the three-year deal he signed last offseason, injured his hamstring last Wednesday during practice. The team has said he’s day-to-day, but in all likelihood, he probably won’t be able to suit up against his former team in two weeks.
Per Bengals insider and Wrightway Sports Network CEO Malik Wright, Waynes’ hamstring injury may keep him out for a month, and the defense is expecting to start Eli Apple in his place.
Trae Wayne’s is expected to miss a few weeks to a month with a hamstring.— Malik Wright (@Wrightreportt) August 29, 2021
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A few weeks to a month from now doesn’t sound terrible from a big-picture perspective. If Waynes is sidelined for just two weeks, he may only miss Week 1 and maybe Week 2. If he needs a full month of recovery time, he can still play more than 75% of the schedule.
It’s truly unlucky that this is happening to Waynes. The veteran defensive back missed all of last year after he tore his pectoral well before the start of the infamous 2020 season. He will eventually make his debut in stripes, but it will be delayed yet again.
In his place figures to be Apple, a free agent signee from this past March and a veteran of defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo’s tutelage. Apple played nearly 300 snaps for the New York Giants in 2018 when Anarumo was the team’s defensive backs coach. 300 snaps might be what he’ll have to be on the field for while Waynes gets better.
It’ll be a tremendous opportunity for Apple to rejuvenate his roller coaster of a career. For Cincinnati’s sake, however, they should hope Waynes experiences a speedy recovery regardless.