The Cincinnati Bengals are moving through OTAs and trying to stay as healthy as possible. If they can remain injury free, a playoff run is possible.
If Bengals fans had one wish, it would be a no-brainer. The road to Super Bowl LI would come through Cincinnati. Getting a Bye Week would be an added luxury and life would be grand. Well, that could be the case this season. With most of the major injuries on the mend, the Bengals are looking like they did in 2015. That could easily mean a trip to the postseason.
That dreaded and immortalized rainy night in January has made fans realize how important staying healthy can be. Not only was Andy Dalton missing from the activities, later in the game, Reggie Nelson injured his ankle and was out for the rest of the battle. The bane of Ben Roethlisberger‘s career was done for the evening.
Last year, the Bengals suffered a number of injuries that had more of an impact than most fans realize. Though the majority of the blame was placed squarely on the shoulders of Dalton, he was not the catalyst. There were gaps in the blueprint on both sides of the ball.
A major blow was felt when Tyler Eifert was injured in the Pro Bowl and needed ankle surgery. He was initially listed as returning by Week 3. But, that suddenly turned into Week 8. Half of the Bengals campaign was without him and Dalton was missing his red zone target. They suffered from his absence. If that wasn’t bad enough, A.J. Green went down in Week 11 with a hamstring tear. In the same game, Giovani Bernard suffered a torn ACL.
There’s really no need to go on with the gory details. The Bengals were literally the walking wounded.
A Need For Concern?
As OTAs take place at Paul Brown Stadium, things are looking much better for the Bengals. The biggest concerns are easily Bernard and Eifert.
While Gio mends on the rehab field, Jeremy Hill is catching passes out of the backfield. Per ESPN, there was a steady rotation of backs being targeted. But, the bulk of the passes went to Hill. Joe Mixon was a pass-catching beast at Oklahoma. OC Ken Zampese probably has a nice array of packages designed for Mixon. During OTAs, Joe is getting a feel for what’s happening. But, he’ll fill in just fine for Bernard.
Eifert’s situation is delicate. Returning from back surgery is always a rough go.The Bengals parted ways with Leon Hall after he had offseason surgery to repair a disc injury. So, the tight end position needs to be clarified. C.J. Uzomah, Tyler Kroft and rookie Mason Schreck will have to step up until Eifert is ready for action.
Defensively, most of the Bengals’ wounded seem ready to make an impact, Andrew Billings is back and looking to find a place on the D-line. William Jackson is taking snaps on the field and looking fast. But, he will still be behind a host of cornerbacks fighting for playing time.
So far, most of the players are fresh from productive offseason routines and getting their legs under them. But, if the Bengals go into the season healthy, a repeat of 2015 could be a serious possibility.