Offensive linemen, quarterbacks and running backs beware: he's baaaaaaack!
After undergoing season-ending surgery to repair his knee injury from an injury he suffered on Halloween last year, All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins is back in the Bengals lineup. He was activated from the PUP List a couple of weeks ago and has had some practice work in--along with a smattering of rest days.
It all changes this Sunday when the Bengals travel to the desert to take on the Arizona Cardinals on primetime television. Paul Dehner, Jr. of The Cincinnati Enquirer relayed the announcement from head coach Marvin Lewis:
DT Geno Atkins will play and start with the first team Sunday at Arizona, according to Marvin Lewis.— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 22, 2014
Marvin on Atkins: "He's had a great couple weeks of practice. He looks like Geno. I've been impressed." #Bengals— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) August 22, 2014
The third preseason game is usually known as "the dress rehearsal", where starters get the most extensive action. Obviously, the team wanted to get Atkins as health as possible before throwing him into any potential dangerous situation, AKA meaningless, preseason football. Given the type of football Rex Ryan had his Jets employ last week, it's better off that Atkins sat game No.2 out.
This is a big boost to the starting defensive unit. After suffering a season-ending injury of his own last year, Leon Hall has come back and has already seen time on the field in preseason. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict also has reportedly signed a big contract extension, so Atkins' return ensures that three of the team's most important players will be on the field Week One and in good spirits.
If we were placing a bet, we wouldn't expect Atkins to get a full half of work as many of the other starters would, but rather enough to get a workout and get closer to football shape for the regular-season opener against the Baltimore Ravens.