Both the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Chargers will be missing some of their top players when they take the field in week one.
The Cincinnati Bengals released their official injury report for Friday and it carried with it some bad news. Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins along with long-time leader and safety Shawn Williams won’t be suiting up for the home opener on Sunday. Cornerback LeShaun Sims is also doubtful, a troubling development for a secondary that is already thin.
The loss of Atkins for week one is the latest in a long line of blows to the interior defensive line depth. As things stand, only three true defensive tackles are expected to be ready to go: D.J. Reader, Mike Daniels, and Christian Covington.
That’s obviously a less than ideal situation, considering Covington only found his way to the Queen City last week via trade. Daniels is a fairly new addition as well. Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo will certainly need those two to step up in a big way if the Bengals are to consistently stop interior runs.
To help soak up some of the snaps at defensive tackle, don’t be surprised if the team opts to kick defensive ends inside at points. The depth chart already lists Andrew Brown as the third-string nose tackle, so there’s potential with his situation. Both Carlos Dunlap and Sam Hubbard are capable of playing inside as well.
The Chargers are dealing with their fair share of injuries as well
While Cincinnati has been dealing with injuries, the forecast on the West Coast hasn’t exactly been sunny for the Chargers. The club already lost star safety Derwin James for the season. Now, they’ll be without starting center Mike Pouncey, who will sit out the opener with a hip injury.
Not to mention, wide receiver Mike Williams, right tackle Bryan Bulaga, and right guard Trai Turner have all been listed as questionable, leaving their status for Sunday up in the air.
In the grand scheme of things, Los Angeles is struggling with injuries more so than the Bengals. This fact means the absence of Geno Atkins should serve as no excuse for any outcomes on Sunday, despite him being arguably their best defensive player.
On a brighter note, the rest of the Bengals roster is largely healthy. They’ll be getting back former first-rounder Jonah Williams along with franchise superstar A.J. Green. The loss of Atkins and Williams will be noticeable, but with the injuries for the Chargers and the healthy individuals on Cincinnati’s squad, the potential to mask their absence is there.