Less than two weeks into the 2016 NFL preseason, the Cincinnati Bengals roster is already riddled with injuries. As the Bengals try to bring their 25-year NFL Playoffs curse to an end, the health of their team could make it difficult to achieve that goal this year. Andy Dalton is completely healthy after his injury from last season, and key players like A.J. Green, Geno Atkins, and Vontaze Burfict continue to look strong. Still, there are seven players currently nursing injuries for the Cincinnati Bengals.
After losing their first preseason game 17-16 to the Minnesota Vikings, the Bengals prepare for their game on Thursday against the Detroit Lions. There will be at least six players who can expect no playing time for Cincinnati this week as they rehab their injuries. While most of them should be ready to go by Week 1, others will begin the 2016 season later in the fall — or not at all.
As reported at Cincinnati.com, a best-case scenario has five of the currently-injured Bengals ready to go against the New York Jets on September 11 in their first game of the 2016 NFL season. While they won’t get much time to bond on the field before the season begins, it’s still very possible they will suit up for all sixteen regular season games.
Cedric Ogbuehi (Right Tackle)
Although it’s unclear exactly when the injury occurred, starting right tackle Cedric Ogbuehi will likely be out of action with a toe injury for two or three weeks before returning to Cincinnati’s offensive line. Coming out of Texas A&M and selected by Cincinnati in the 2015 NFL Draft, Ogbuehi missed the first eleven games of 2015 while recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. Upon returning from injury, he is expected to fill the hole left when regular starter Andre Smith left for the Minnesota Vikings.
Tyler Eifert (Tight End)
In hindsight, making his first NFL Pro Bowl in 2016 was bittersweet for Tyler Eifert. While his breakout performance during the 2015 NFL season made him an unexpectedly valuable fantasy football selection, his inclusion in the 2016 NFL Pro Bowl lead to what was initially believed to be a minor ankle injury. But as reported by Cincy Jungle, after having surgery on the injured ankle during the offseason, the Bengals became more concerned about Eifert’s health. His unusual injury makes it difficult to predict when he’ll be back. While he won’t be playing any preseason games, it’s possible he will miss up to four regular season games as well. Still, as mentioned above, the best-case scenario has Eifert playing in Week 1 against the New York Jets.
Tyler Kroft (Tight End)
The Bengals had hoped one tight end named Tyler could temporarily make due for another Tyler tight end when they put Kroft in Eifert’s place on offense. However, during practice on August 2, Kroft was carted off the field with a knee injury. While early speculation was that he had hyperextended his knee, Roto World reports that the diagnosis was a sprained knee after his MRI. Again, a best-case scenario has Kroft ready to go for Week 1, but it’s possible that both Tyler tight ends will be sidelined as the Cincinnati Bengals begin the regular season.
Brandon LaFell (Wide Receiver)
Having already missed the preseason game against the Minnesota Vikings, receiver Brandon LaFell is dealing with a torn ligament in his right hand. A free agent who signed a one-year contract with the Bengals during the offseason, he is expected to start playing for the Bengals in the preseason against the Detroit Lions on Thursday or the Jacksonville Jaguars a week from Sunday. According to coach Mike Lewis, LaFell’s availability for Thursday’s game will be determined when they arrive in Detroit.
Darqueze Dennard (Cornerback)
Dennard was drafted by the Bengals in 2014 because he reminded the team so much of starting cornerback Leon Hall, who just recently left Cincinnati to sign with the New York Giants. Having already missed the preseason game against the Vikings, it’s unclear exactly when Dennard will return to the Bengals defense. He sprained his ankle at practice on August 1 and isn’t expected to play on Thursday against the Lions. However, he is still expected to be ready in time for Week 1 against the Jets.
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Unfortunately for the Bengals, some players currently nursing injuries definitely won’t be available when the 2016 NFL regular season begins. And two of those guys with very serious injuries have yet to take a single snap wearing an NFL jersey.
William Jackson III (Cornerback)
The injury to Dennard was especially harsh considering that Bengals cornerback and 2016 first round draft pick William Jackson III could already be out for the entire season. Injured the same day as Darqueze, the prognosis for Jackson is much more serious. With a torn pectoral muscle, optimistic projections have him out 3-4 months, meaning a return in November is theoretically possible for William. Unfortunately for the Bengals, other reports are indicating that there is no time table at all for such an injury, and that the Who Dey nation should prepare for Jackson to make his debut in 2017.
Andrew Billings (Defensive Tackle)
Fourth round draftee Andrew Billings was injured during the joint practice between the Bengals and Vikings one week ago. While the initial reaction was hopeful, the most recent report from Cincy Jungle indicates that in all likelihood, Billings won’t be playing in 2016. Having suffered a torn meniscus, Billings had surgery on Monday. Initially, it was expected that Billings would miss about four months, putting him back in the lineup at the end of the regular season. While all injuries are unfortunate, it wasn’t likely that Billings was going to see a lot of playing time in 2016. Either way, the Bengals will obviously be happy to have him back in their rotation as soon as possible.
As the Cincinnati Bengals continue to be plagued with injuries during the 2016 NFL preseason, they move on to their second game in Detroit against the Lions on Thursday, August 18. The game at Ford Field is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. EDT. The Lions started their preseason schedule with a 30-17 win over longtime Bengals rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. After going to Jacksonville to play the Jaguars on August 28, the Bengals return home as they welcome the Indianapolis Colts to Paul Brown Stadium on September 1.
The first game of the regular season for the Cincinnati Bengals will be in New York against the Jets. The game is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday, September 11, and will air on CBS. Aside from William Jackson III and Andrew Billings, Cincinnati is still hopeful that their injured players will be ready to go by Week 1.
[Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images]