Bengals sophomore defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow was just coming into his own in the first three games of this season and now he's on his own after tearing his ACL during one of his break-out games Sunday in Carolina.
Glasgow was having another solid game maybe his best yet on a day not many of his teammates were when he tried to fight through a reach block in the second half. Trying to beat running back Christian McCaffrey's cut, Glasgow's cleat stuck in the grass and "I just felt a pop and a burn and I knew it wasn't good."
As he should since he's the son of sports medicine orthopedists. Dr. Steven Glasgow, who takes care of knees, was watching the game in Detroit while waiting to watch older son Graham center the Lions' win over the Patriots. He sent a text knowing it wasn't good. His mother, Dr. Michele Glasgow, who takes care of shoulders, was in Carolina and must have known even before he was loaded on the cart. If she didn't, his helmet toss was the first clue as trainer Paul Sparling approached.
"The first thing I said to Paul when he came over was, 'I know I tore something in my knee.' It just didn't feel good, so I knew my season was probably done at that point," Glasgow said. "The helmet coming off was probably just the culmination of those feelings."
And the Bengals are just as frustrated. Their 2017 fourth-rounder out of Michigan had been as advertised and getting settled in the rotation with Pro Bowl three technique Geno Atkins and starting nose tackle Andrew Billings:
A talented, smart, try-hard guy that plays bigger than he is (6-3, 300 pounds) against the run. Pro Football Focus.com has him rated as the 14th overall highest graded tackle in the league and 14th against the run at "above average," even higher than Atkins in that category.
"I think it was just a full offseason, working really hard, kind of changing my lifestyle around, being an NFL player and it kind of sucks having that cut short," Glasgow said of the reasons for his progress. "I'm almost at half my production from last year within three games. I think as a player I definitely was headed in the right direction. To have it cut short isn't ideal, but I'll pick back up where I left off."
There are agents and parents and trainers to consult, but he's been here before. He tore a pectoral muscle earlier in his career and he gave a shout out Monday to his mother for "the seamless recovery." He may have his dad do the knee surgery, but no matter who has the knife the shoulder injury taught him what to expect.
"I think the biggest thing about rehab is just chipping away. I mean, that's probably one of the most difficult processes for sure. It's just every day coming in, doing your work, not taking shortcuts. Because those shortcuts when you're quote-unquote healthy could be a detriment to your health. You could re-tear something. So it's definitely about not taking shortcuts and doing everything the right way and coming in every day with a positive attitude."
So Glasgow is thinking he'll stay in Cincinnati for the rehab. He likes being around the team and Nick Cosgray, Sparling's rehab chief, has a solid track record and confidence of the players. He stopped by left guard Clint Boling's locker and leaned on his crutches to commiserate.
Boling's comeback from an ACL suffered in the Dec. 1, 2013 win in San Diego is one of the textbooks, in large measure because of his serious work ethic that he shares with Glasgow. Glasgow has similar supersonic goals. Forget being ready for the first day of training camp.
"I want to be back doing stuff in OTAs," Glasgow said of late May. "Probably not contact. I don't really know how the recovery is going to be, but just going through drills, doing stuff, getting comfortable before camp."
His injury means that 350-pound Josh Tupou is going to get his shot after a season he spent all but one game of his rookie year on the practice squad. With the Bengals bracing for the Panthers' relentless running attack, on Sunday they made Tupou, undrafted out of Colorado, active for the first time this season and just for the second time in his career. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin liked his 19 snaps and he'll join Atkins and Billings in Atlanta on Sunday.
The Bengals may not be in a rush to replace Glasgow on the roster since WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict is going to be added a week from Monday when he comes off an NFL suspension. Glasgow thinks Tupou is going to be interesting.
"If you watch the tape, Josh played like a beast out there taking on double teams," Glasgow said. "He's a big, strong guy. He's got that Polynesian muscle. It's almost unmatched genetically … His snaps will definitely get amped up, we'll see what they do with the fourth DT spot."
Right now it looks like that fourth guy is going to be who it's always been: ends Michael Johnson, Jordan Willis and Sam Hubbard giving them a different look next to Atkins on passing downs."