Nick Cosgray, the Bengals rehab guru, had been having a pretty good training camp until the day before Sunday's preseason finale against the Dolphins at Paul Brown Stadium.
Tucked away in his office during Saturday's team meeting, Cosgray saw his doorway fill up with one of the more ominous figures in a building that has successfully handled a global pandemic, Mark Herron, the Bengals' tireless director of security.
"I'm thinking," Cosgray had to say with a laugh, 'What have I done now?'"
It was all good. Just like the ACL rehabs he directed and head athletic trainer Paul Sparling oversaw that got quarterback Joe Burrow and center Trey Hopkins ready in time for Sunday's brief starting assignments in the run-up to the Sept. 12 opener at PBS against Mike Zimmer's Vikings.
Herron told him head coach Zac Taylor wanted him in the meeting. Once Cosgray got in there, Taylor told his team that their captains for Sunday were Burrow, Hopkins and the guy that helped get them back.
Cosgray, who can't remember if he'd ever been a captain when playing baseball at Twin Lakes High School in Monticello, Ind., sounded as if he would be both honored and hesitant at the same time when he walked out to the 50-yard line for Sunday's coin toss.
"Obviously a great honor from Zac. I'm grateful to him," Cosgray said. "I was taken aback. I don't like to draw attention to myself. What we do is low-profile. It's just not me. It's a whole team that does it. But to get the recognition from the guys you work with and the guys you work for is nice. There's a lot of work that goes into both of those rehabs. You didn't take as much time off as you would normally do during an offseason because you wanted to be here for those guys. It was a long offseason but a good offseason. And a very productive offseason."
Cosgray got the nod 15 years and a day to Carson Palmer's first and only preseason start after he tore his ACL on the second snap of the playoffs back in that previous January. Cosgray arrived at the tail end of Palmer's rehab and saw the finishing touches. Palmer played the first half that day and while Burrow figures not to come close to that many snaps, it's still a great achievement for anyone to undergo reconstructive knee surgery and back for the next opener.
Particularly for Hopkins, since he tore his ACL six weeks after Burrow in the Jan. 3 season finale.
"From the end of the season, you've got a solid six months before the start of the next season. Especially with a guy like Trey," Cosgray said. "It was a goal we set from the beginning. We talked about it. It's a goal we can definitely reach, but everything has to go right and everything went right.
"Same thing with Joe. The goal is to be back by the start of training camp. We can certainly do that, but we can't have setbacks and if we do, that pushes the timeline back. But it was pretty much a seamless rehab process. They definitely worked their butts off. We've got a proven track record of putting together programs for those types of injuries. A lot of it relies on the patient buying in and trusting what you give them to do."
One guy that looks like Cosgray is going to be working with soon is rookie edge Joseph Ossai. Taylor confirmed this week that the third-round pick out of Texas underwent knee surgery and is probably out of the year. Multiple reports had Ossai tearing his meniscus in his monster debut that Pro Football Focus had him for a sack and five total pressures in 22 snaps.
No surprise that starting cornerback Trae Waynes (hamstring) has been ruled out for Sunday's game. The question seems to be how many games he is going to miss beyond the opener.
Undrafted rookie running back Pookah Williams, Jr., also wasn't expected to play. That's the second game he missed and he played just three snaps in the game he did play.