The Cincinnati Bengals had arguably the best defense in the NFL over the past 8 games last year, and part of that had to do with the addition of rookie linebacker Emmanuel Lamur. After going undrafted out of Kansas State, Lamur was signed to the practice squad, but eventually got the call-up to the active roster, and served primarily on special teams at first.
But as the season wore on, his snaps increased, and he eventually developed into the team’s best coverage linebacker. They were expecting a big year from him entering this season, and he was considered the starting strongside linebacker in their nickel defense in order to utilize his pas coverage skills best.
That won’t happen now, as Lamur is expected to be done for the season with a shoulder injury. Lamur was carted off the field in Thursday night’s preseason finale after separating his shoulder while tackling Indianapolis Colts running back Donald Brown. Tests confirmed that Lamur’s injury is season-ending in nature, and now the Bengals have a significant hole in their defense to fill.
To look at how significant a loss this is, we go to Pro Football Focus, who’s analysis had the Bengals defense in nickel or dime packages 53.4 percent of the time last season. In the first three preseason games, Lamur had seen the third-most snaps in nickel or dime defense (36). The leader was Burfict with 45 followed by Schaffer (39) and Maualuga (22).
Needless to say, Lamur was on track to get a high percentage of snaps this season, and losing him is the equivalent of losing a starter.