After gutting out a training camp shoulder injury all season, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Geno Atkins landed on injured reserve Wednesday to punctuate a season of devastation on the Bengals front that now has three tackles on the season-ending IR list.
Atkins, third on the Bengals all-time list with 75.5 sacks, joins the other starting tackle on IR. D.J. Reader, the man the Bengals made the NFL's highest-paid nose tackle in free agency back in March, went down with torn quadriceps in the fifth game. Backup nose tackle Renell Wren suffered the same season-ending injury during the first week of training camp.
Mike Daniels (elbow) also spent three weeks on injured reserve before he came back. Josh Tupou, a nose tackle who played 43 percent of the snaps last season, opted out.
Atkins, who had a streak of 96 straight starts, never took a start this year and played just eight games. He hurt his shoulder late in training camp and missed the season's first four games before coming back in a reduced role while trying to rehab the shoulder.
He tried to make it back all the way, but he never had more than 20 snaps in game and took just 20 combined the last two weeks. He didn't have a sack in just 14 percent of the defensive plays.
Atkins appeared to have a setback in the Dallas game, when he played just seven snaps, and there's speculation he's headed to rotator cuff surgery.
With eight Pro Bowls, Atkins, 32, is the most decorated defensive player in Bengals history and has two years left on his deal. He's coming off two seasons he played the most snaps of his career (795 and 816, respectively) with a combined 14.5 sacks.
Taking Atkins' roster spot is defensive end Amani Bledsoe as he comes off the Reserve/COVID-19 list, where he's been since Dec. 6. Bledsoe, a first-year player, made his NFL debut in the opener when the depth issues started to percolate and he's made four starts in 11 games.