With Billings Out Bengals Will Turn To Veteran Players

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Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko (94) against the Pittsburgh Steelers during a AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko (94) against the Pittsburgh Steelers during a AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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Andrew Billings is the latest Bengals casualty. Preseason is taking a toll on the talented defensive unit. Can they survive the loss?

Just when things looked like they were going good, the Bengals have another setback. Andrew Billings will undergo surgery, to repair a torn meniscus. For Cincinnati, that looms as a potentially devastating blow. Billings came into camp looking like a sure bet for instant reps. Now, he’ll be entering a long rehab. Per Coley Harvey of ESPN, he may miss his rookie season. 

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Billings didn’t see action during Friday night’s game. In fact, that’s something Bengals faithful can be happy about. The Bengals’ starting defense took the field and was dominant. Geno Atkins was superb as usual. He gave the crowd at Paul Brown Stadium something to look forward to. Atkins played only three snaps. Those reps were all he needed to remind the NFL he’s still a beast.

The defensive depth won’t suffer. Billings was going to see limited playing time. The Bengals like to groom their players and let them grasp the playbook gradually. If they mature quicker than normal, the playing time will be there. Earlier in camp, cornerback William Jackson III suffered a torn pectoral muscle.

With two potential stars recovering from injuries, the talk will quickly return to The Curse. There’s no reason to go there. Cincinnati will have no problem competing. The veteran players will be expected to step up and do their jobs. There’s a chance Billings could see action later in the year.  

Until Billings, Domata Peko and Pat Sims are the likely candidates for line rotation. Peko will be testing the free agent waters next season. The Bengals will want to get a good look at his skill, before letting him go. Peko will be 32-years-old. Marcus Hardison and DeShawn Williams will also be expected to step up. 

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s natural to rehash the same old feelings of anger and despair. Bengals fans have gotten used to the woe-is-me portion of each year. But, what’s not allowed this year is The Curse. The expectations on the shores of the Ohio River are high. Andy Dalton is back. The offense is looking good. All is not lost.

Darqueze Dennard will miss the majority of the preseason, with an injured ankle. Mario Alford played well, Friday night. Yet, he’s wearing a boot. Tyler Eifert’s injury has him sidelined until the regular season. It all points to The Curse, right? No, the Bengals have one of the deepest rosters in the league. This will pass.

Fans of the Orange and Black will need to have faith. D-coordinator Paul Guenther and defensive line coach Jacob Burney will find the right combinations. Burney likes what he sees.

"“I see ability. Really, the whole deal is going to come out in the wash. That’s why I like to say that I may be thinking one thing and what comes out in the wash is something different. There are so many factors. So many factors. The physicality of it, whatever it is. Those guys have ability.”"

Everything will be fine…with or without Billings.

Next: Another Setback?

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