Bengals pick Peerman to return; Jackson won’t

Cedric Peerman was hopeful he would get a chance to play this season after undergoing surgery to repair a broken forearm in the preseason, but he wished it didn’t have to come at the expense of a teammate.

The Cincinnati Bengals designated the Pro Bowl special teams player and running back for return from injured reserve on Wednesday, a move that officially ended the season of cornerback William Jackson, the team’s first-round draft pick this year.

Jackson and Peerman were the only players eligible to return from IR, and teams are limited to one such move. Peerman resumed practice Wednesday and is expected to fill the spot on the 53-man roster left open by the season-ending injury to running back Giovani Bernard, who tore his ACL against Buffalo on Sunday.

Peerman said he will be ready to play Sunday at Baltimore, which has a 1 1/2-game lead over the Bengals in the AFC North.

“It is bittersweet,” Peerman said before practice. “It’s tough, but at the same time we always talk about it’s going to be one or the other, or maybe both of us might be done for the season, so just getting the opportunity to come back is a great blessing.”

Special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons said it was unfortunate it took Bernard’s injury to push Peerman into the mix, and he looks forward to seeing Jackson on the field as much as anybody. However, Peerman has been missed.

The eight-year veteran earned his first Pro Bowl berth in 2015 after leading the Bengals in special-teams tackles for the second straight season with 17 stops. He had not missed a game since 2012 before his Aug. 28 injury at Jacksonville.

“He’s covered a lot of plays,” Simmons said. “He’s sat through a lot of meetings and he’s done a lot of time. He’s done a lot of dirty work that goes unnoticed.”

Peerman missed just one or two days of meetings after his injury because of concern for infection, so there is no question he is mentally ready, Simmons said. Now, it’s just determining whether he is physically ready after missing so much time.

Running back Rex Burkhead has been effectively filling Peerman’s role on special teams, where he has recorded a team-best 10 tackles, but he likely will scale back on that while sliding into Bernard’s place in the offense. Burkhead said he looks forward to the opportunity to be more involved in the offense but whatever his role is on special teams going forward, he would be glad to have Peerman back.

“He’s been ready to come back, and we’ve been wanting him to come back,” Burkhead said. “He was a Pro Bowl player last year and someone we definitely missed on special teams.”

Peerman said he felt like he “could have played weeks ago,” but tried not to think about whether it would be him or Jackson — or neither — coming off the rehab field. He plans to practice as though he could play on offense, too.

“I had all kind of things running through my head and I really didn’t know what to expect but just getting this opportunity is amazing,” Peerman said. “It’s great. I just hope to make the best of it.”

Thompson ready: Defensive tackle Brandon Thompson returned to practice for the first time since tearing his ACL in the regular-season finale last year against Baltimore.

A fifth-year player out of Clemson, Thompson remains on the physically unable to perform list, but the Bengals have three weeks to make a decision on whether to add him to the 53-man roster or place him on season-ending injured reserve.

Thompson said he was excited to be practicing again and wasn’t worried about facing any hesitation in testing his knee in a higher intensity setting.

“I just had great trainers that put me through so much, so I got a lot of faith in it and I trust it, so I’m going to go out there and give it my all,” Thompson said.

Thompson’s return comes as Bernard just went down with the same injury. It’s the second ACL tear for Bernard, who missed an entire season at the University of North Carolina in 2010 after injuring his knee during a preseason practice.

“It’s tough,” Thompson said. “He’s strong. I told him I’m here. Any questions he got, I can answer them. I know all about the process, just got done with it right when he starts. That’s crazy, but he’s a great player and he’s going to be fine.

Injury report: While Peerman and Thompson both returned Wednesday, several others were either out or limited.

Wide receivers A.J. Green (hamstring) and Brandon LaFell (knee), cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (knee), safety Shawn Williams (hamstring), tight end C.J. Uzomah (calf) and left tackle Andrew Whitworth (non-injury related) did not participate in practice.

Additionally, guard Clint Boling (shoulder), quarterback Andy Dalton (right shoulder), long snapper Clark Harris (groin) and cornerback Josh Shaw (hip) were limited. Dalton also showed up on the injury report last Wednesday but wasn’t listed by Friday.

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