Bengals middle linebacker Preston Brown missed the first game his NFL career Thursday night with an ankle injury that put him on the inactive list against the Ravens in the Paul Brown Stadium opener. Also out are wide receivers Cody Core and Auden Tate, running back Mark Walton, right guard Christian Westerman and nose tackle Josh Tupou.
The Ravens had figured to try and run the ball even with the 6-1, 255-pound Brown’s status unclear and with the 6-0, 235-pound Hardy Nickerson making his third NFL start in his place that seemed to be a virtual certainty. But Nickerson played 36 snaps after Brown went down in Sunday’s opener and played well enough for the Bengals to allow the Colts just 3.4 yards per carry. And in the last half-minute of the game Nickerson helped safety Clayton Fejedelem force a fumble of Colts tight end Jack Doyle at the Bengals 17 for Fejedelem’s 83-yard fumble return touchdown that saved the game.
Brown’s injury is laced with irony. He made a huge interception on his second play as a Bengals with an interception of the Colts’ Andrew Luck at the Cincinnati 7 before suffering an injury late in the first half that stopped his consecutive games played streak at 65. He never missed a game playing for the Bills or the University of Louisville until he returned to play in the stadium of his hometown. Brown says it’s the first time he’s missed a game since his days at Cincinnati’s Northwest High School.
Brown’s inactive means rookie outside linebacker Malik Jefferson is active for the first time in his career.