The Cincinnati Bengals placed defensive end Robert Geathers on season–ending Injured Reserve on Wednesday after the 10-year veteran suffered an elbow injury in Monday’s 20-10 victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Geathers is the longest-tenured Bengal and one of 26 players to reach double digits in years served with the franchise. Geathers has 33 sacks, 15 pass defenses, six forced fumbles, five fumble recoveries and two interceptions in 140 games played, including 108 starts.
He signed a three-year, $9 million contract on March 12. He played 22 of 121 (18 percent) defensive snaps this season.
To replace Geathers in defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer’s rotation, the Bengals may elect to bring linebacker James Harrison off the edge, something he did for 10 seasons in Pittsburgh’s 4-3 scheme.
Another possibility would be to activate rookie defensive end Margus Hunt for the first time this season. The Bengals drafted Hunt, an Estonia native who is still relatively new to football, with the idea of bringing him along slowly, a luxury they could afford because of the talent and depth on the defensive line.
“He’s still got a ways to go,” Zimmer said after practice Wednesday. “It’s hard to continue to focus on him when we’re focusing on other teams now a little bit more.”
But Zimmer did say he thought Hunt would be fine if the team needed him to play Sunday and even suggested that could be the case.
“The redshirt may be over,” Zimmer said.
Rey reflects: Without even being asked about his personal foul penalty that cost the Bengals a chance to get the ball back in the final minutes of their season-opening loss at Chicago, middle linebacker Rey Maualuga brought up the subject.
“The penalty at the end of the game really hurt me,” he said after simply being asked how he thinks he is doing this year.
Maualuga said head coach Marvin Lewis approached him in the training room after the game.
“He said it was a stupid mistake, but you can’t put this on your shoulders because it just wasn’t you that lost the game,” Maualuga said. “It put me at ease. Obviously he was frustrated, knowing that I’m supposed to keep my cool. But he felt as if it should have been offsetting.”
Safety Taylor Mays, who was teammates with Maualuga at USC, echoed Lewis’ comments.
“I’m not saying it was a smart decision, but we’re a team and we go down together,” Mays said. “I could have made a play on fourth-and-1 and he wouldn’t even have been in that situation. I’m going to stick by his side and I know everyone else is going to stick by his side.”
Hawk talk: Centerville native and Green Bay Packers middle linebacker A.J. Hawk will play his second NFL game in his home state and his first in Cincinnati on Sunday.
Hawk was a senior at Ohio State the last time the Packers played the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium in 2005. In 2009 he had eight tackles to help lead Green Bay to a 31-3 win at Cleveland.
“AJ’s very well thought of here,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “He’s just been a steady, steady player for so long.”