Updated: 9 p.m.
Less than 48 hours after signing his contract, rookie right tackle Andre Smith suffered a fractured foot late in Tuesday's practice and is going to be out of action for what head coach Marvin Lewis called "a few weeks."
In a statement released through the Bengals public relations department, Lewis said, "Andre suffered a small fracture in his left foot during a non-contact drill. Our medical staff tells me the injury will not require surgery. It's too soon to closely predict how long it will be before he can return to practice. But it looks like he's going to miss a few weeks."
The impact of the injury remains to be seen. If it goes longer than a few weeks, it is a severe blow to Smith's development, already stunted by a 30-day holdout. It also throws the final Bengals roster for a loop. Smith does have a roster exemption for two weeks, but after it expires they may have to keep 10 offensive linemen instead of nine depending on the extent of the layoff.
"A few weeks" could mean anything. Cornerbacks David Jones and Morgan Trent suffered foot fractures during this preseason and their rehab took about five to six weeks. Jones is still coming back after having surgery the first week of August and the Bengals hope he can play in the opener.
Smith's rehab may not be as long because both Jones and Trent had surgery, but they are also smaller men. Citing a source, NFL Network reported Smith will be out seven to 10 days. The Bengals don't comment on injuries, but their experience with similar injuries indicate it could be longer.
Smith, a 6-4, 335-pounder out of Alabama, didn't have an injury history in college during a career he played 38 games in three years. Despite battling weight problems before the draft, he participated in all of the Bengals' spring drills without a problem.
He didn't do much in his first practice Sunday because he signed his deal just 25 minutes before practice began. Smith did a little bit more Monday but the Bengals were trying to ease him in as he got caught up on the playbook and conditioning.
The injury keeps alive the Bengals' duel with fate and injuries to their top draft picks dating back to 2004.
Running back Chris Perry, their No. 1 pick in '04, played just two games as a rookie (and just 35 in his career) because of a sports hernia. Linebacker David Pollack suffered a knee sprain that knocked him out of the starting lineup midway through his rookie year in 2005 before the No. 1 pick's career ended with a broken neck suffered in the second game of the '06 season. In 2007, second-rounder Kenny Irons' career ended on his fourth carry when the running back tore his ACL in a preseason game. Last year WILL linebacker Keith Rivers, a first-rounder, played in only the first seven games of his rookie season after suffering a broken jaw.
Smith had already made news Tuesday. Citing a league source, ProFootballTalk.com reported that Smith's contract contains a provision that cuts Smith's pay in half for each game in which he weighs in at 350 pounds or higher and is not on the active Gameday 45-man roster.