CINCINNATI — Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor said defensive end Trey Hendrickson is dealing with a “wrist issue,” but he will not be going on injured reserve and Taylor isn’t even ruling him out for Sunday’s game at Tampa Bay.
NFL Network national insider Ian Rapoport on Sunday reported on Twitter that sources told him and colleague James Palmer that Hendrickson broke his wrist and is expected to miss a few weeks. The injury happened in the fourth quarter, but Hendrickson finished the game.
“We’ll see where he’s at through the week, but I’m not ready to rule him out,” Taylor said Monday, noting it was impressive for Hendrickson to play effectively through an injury.
Hendrickson has 6.0 sacks and two forced fumbles in 13 games this season. Only Cleveland’s Myles Garrett has more quarterback pressures.
If Hendrickson is unable to play, the team is ready to move on with “the next man up.” The Bengals have showed their depth this season with injuries to other players like DJ Reader and Ja’Marr Chase, both of whom missed multiple games because of knee and hip ailments, respectively.
Cincinnati beat the Browns on Sunday without Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd and Hayden Hurst. Higgins played one snap but sat the rest of the game because of a hamstring injury he re-aggravated in pregame warmups, and Boyd dislocated his finger on his second snap. Both are considered “day-to-day,” according to Taylor, while Hurst, who had already been ruled out against the Browns because of a calf injury, remains “week-to-week.”
Joseph Ossai would be the next option to replace Hendrickson, but Ossai suffered a shoulder injury Sunday and will need evaluated this week, though he also returned to play. Cam Sample typically plays on the left side behind Sam Hubbard or inside on third down. Jeff Gunter is third on the depth chart at Hendrickson’s spot.
“I think there’s a lot of names to be talking about right now of guys on the injury report, but again, it’s never as bad as it could be,” Taylor said. “No one (is) going on IR — a bunch of guys that we’re just gonna have to see where they’re at as the week goes, but really came in to today feeling pretty positive about where things stand. And it’s just that point of the year where it’s a physical game and so you’re gonna have a lot of guys like that.
“I look at all the teams we’re playing and have played, it’s the same deal going on around the league as you get to this part of the year. But I do feel really good about the depth that we have. And when guys have to step up, it’s just we’re at the point where we got a really, really good 69-man roster where if we’ve got to pull from we can pull from, and these guys are all here at this point for a reason. We believe they can play on Sunday.”
Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo said that Hendrickson’s status will depend on whether he can grab and grip well enough to be able to do what he needs to do to tackle and pull blocks off of him like he normally would.
Hendrickson, coming off the right side, puts his left hand down to push off but still would need the right hand to play effectively.
“It’s just such a hard thing when they can’t grab and steer and get the guys off them from holding with both hands,” Anarumo said. “It makes it -- left, right, it’ll be challenging either way so it’s best that it’s healed and he’s able to use it. We’ll just see how it goes. … It’s hard to play one-handed.”
Anarumo hasn’t figured out how to replace Hendrickson just yet, but said the depth is good enough to not be concerned about too big of a dropoff in production.
Gunter, a seventh-round draft pick out of Coastal Carolina, has only played 13 snaps on defense as a rookie. He was active in eight of the first 10 games, with more opportunities on special teams, but hasn’t been involved since the Week 11 win at Pittsburgh. Anarumo said he’s just “super young and inexperienced” and needs to show more consistency to get more opportunities.
B.J. Hill said Monday the backups in the edge roles, particularly Sample and Ossai, have earned the respect of the starters by learning and “soaking up all the information” the veterans and coaches have given them.
“We have faith in our young guys as well,” Hill said. “They can come in and play well, Cam, Joe (Ossai), whoever we need back, they’re going to step up. We believe in those guys and they’re gonna prove themselves. I feel they could start anywhere in the league. I think they’re really good D-edge (guys) for us. And they’re gonna step up, no problem.”
Bengals at Buccaneers, 4:25 p.m., Ch. 7, 12; 700, 1530, 102.7, 104.7
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