This one pains me because Awuzie is one of my favorite players in stripes right now, but, as expected, he's had a slow start coming back after suffering a torn ACL midway through the 2022 season.
The third-year Bengal cornerback hasn't been anywhere close to his usual lockdown self so far in 2023 and is clearly still shaking off the rust of a prolonged offseason thanks to the injury mentioned above. Torn ACLs are among the hardest injuries to recover from in football, especially for a position that demands as much speed and mobility as the cornerback position does, so his struggles are disappointing, yet not entirely unexpected.
We're only six weeks into the season and it feels like Awuzie has given up more big plays in 2023 than he has in his last couple of years as a Bengal, including giving up a touchdown to Nelson Agholor in Week 2 vs. Ravens and getting beat for a big gain by Tyler Lockett this past Sunday on 2nd-and-21.
Awuzie has been targeted 12 times so far this season and has given up receptions on nine of those targets for 108 yards and a score, allowing a 129.9 passer rating when targeted. This is by far the worst of his time in Cincy and even the worst passer rating allowed of his career, the second-worst being back in 2020 when he was still playing for the Cowboys, and even then he only allowed a rating of 103.5. Not great by any stretch of the imagination, but not as inadequate as this year.
Worse yet, Awuzie has also been battling a back injury this season, one that kept him sidelined in their Week 5 victory in Arizona and saw him play sparingly in their Week 6 win at home over Seattle, only on the field for 19% of Cincy's total defensive snaps.
Due to the fact he is coming back from one of the most debilitating injuries in all of sports paired with the rust that naturally comes with that, and the (albeit more minor) injury problems he's faced this year so far on top of all that, I won't be holding my breath for a return to form following the bye week.