Injuries are piling up for the Cincinnati Bengals’ defense.
Starters Trey Hendrickson and Mike Hilton couldn’t play Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and another major player will be out for the time-being.
Sam Hubbard suffered a left calf injury during the Bengals’ 34-23 win. Per NFL insider Tom Pelissero, Hubbard is expected to miss a few weeks, and the team will hope to have him back for the start of the playoffs.
#Bengals DE Sam Hubbard is expected to miss a few weeks because of the left calf injury he suffered Sunday, per source. The hope is Hubbard – who has started every game and has 6½ sacks this season – can make it back for the playoffs.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 19, 2022
Not the worst case scenario, but far from great news.
Three games remain for the Bengals, who are a win away from clinching a playoff berth for the second year in a row, and it looks like Hubbard will miss all of them. Cincinnati may have to play without both of their starting defensive ends if Hendrickson doesn’t return this week from a wrist injury. Hendrickson missed all three practices last week.
This has been a career-year for Hubbard. The two-time team captain and Cincinnati native was up to 6.5 sacks on the year with a career-high 16.2% pass-rushing win rate per Pro Football Focus.
Hubbard played 27 snaps against the Bucs before exiting the field with a limp. He was soon declared out of the game, and the team turned to rookie Jeff Gunter to help fill the rotation at defensive end. Gunter played a season-high 18 snaps.
As of now, the Bengals have three healthy edge defenders in Joseph Ossai, Cam Sample, and Gunter. A move or two will be made this week to ensure more depth will be had for their next game against the New England Patriots on Saturday.