The Bengals lost Pro Bowl WILL linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the season Tuesday when they put him on season-ending injured reserve as concerns are apparently growing over the knee injury that has shelved him for the last six games.
Indications are Burfict is undergoing more exams after he was unable to come back from an Oct. 29 arthroscopic procedure. Burfict appeared to hurt the knee early in the Oct. 26 victory over Baltimore on a goal-line stand, but stayed in the game and played 92 percent of the snaps. The hope was he'd be back for the stretch, but the knee apparently didn't respond well enough.
It's another tough blow for a Bengals defense that has fallen from last year's No. 3 NFL ranking to a tie for 28th after they gave up their most yards in a home game in 19 years Sunday with many of the Steelers' 543 yards coming where Burfict would have lined up.
Burfict not only serves as a versatile three-down backer who led the NFL in tackles last season, he's the nerve center of the playbook and emotional leader. So the fact he's never been healthy this year has been a severe blow. He battled a hamstring injury in preseason, didn't finish the first two games of the regular season with a concussion, and missed the next two games with a concussion. He also missed most of the Colts game with a cervical strain the week before he hurt his knee.
The Bengals are keeping close eyes on a valuable knee. Before the season they signed him to what has been reported as a four-year, $19 million deal with $7 million of it guaranteed.
The Bengals will continue to fill his spot with Vincent Rey, playing more snaps this season than he had played in his entire career coming into the season. The Bengals replaced Burfict on the roster with rookie quarterback A.J. McCarron, practicing for the last three weeks while on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list.