Making his way through the Cincinnati Bengals locker room on crutches Tuesday morning, left guard Travelle Wharton was smiling and upbeat in wake of the season-ending ACL injury he suffered in Friday’s 17-6 preseason victory against the New York Jets.
“I’m doing good,” Wharton said. “Hopefully it isn’t bad when they go in there, but it’s still an injury that requires surgery and you have to take care of.”
Wharton, who added that the surgery should be scheduled by the week, suffered a similar injury in the 2006 season opener with Carolina. He healed from that one in time to start all 16 games the following year, but the eight-year veteran with 99 career starts will be 32 by the time the 2013 season begins.
“I’m just going to attack this surgery as if I was a 21-, 22-year-old,” he said. “Age never crossed my mind. Football, am I coming back never crossed my mind. I just want to be healthy and attack this and go into rehab and this surgery with an open mind and get through it.”
Wharton, who signed a three-year free agent deal with the Bengals in March, was injured on the third offensive snap Friday night. He was engaged in a block when another player rolled into the side of his leg.
“Going down before you ever get started, that’s disappointing to anyone,” he said. “I wanted to come here and fit into it and be ready to go to work, but unfortunately this injury took place and now it’s time for me to get prepared for surgery.”
Wharton said his new teammates have been instrumental in keeping his spirits high.
“A lot of guys have been calling, checking up on me,” he said. “Anytime I see anybody in the building, they always ask how I’m doing. That’s makes you feel like you’re not going through it alone.
“Being through this before, I understand it’s going to take a lot of hard work and dedication,” Wharton added. “I’m prepared for that. I’m attacking this thing full speed getting ready to play.”
Maualuga close: Linebacker Rey Maualuga said the knee injury he suffered Friday night against the Jets was a Grade 1 MCL sprain and that he’ll be ready to return soon.
“I think I’ll be back next week for sure,” Maualuga said Tuesday before practice. “I’ve got the Samoan genes. I joke around with Nick (Cosgray, Bengals assistant trainer) that we heal fast. I’ll be doing some running around with him today.”
Maualuga will not play Thursday in the team’s second preseason game at Atlanta. But unlike most of the team’s injured players, who will stay in Cincinnati for rehab work, Maualuga will make the trip and will be on the sideline to help the other linebackers.
Different debut: The Bengals’ 17-6 victory against the New York Jets in their 2012 preseason debut Friday night was a far cry from the 34-3 clunker which opened the Bengals’ 2011 preseason slate.
“A lot different than last year. A lot different,” quarterback Andy Dalton said. “Guys have a lot better understanding of what we’re doing and have a little bit more time to practice.
“The second year in the offense, that’s how it should be,” he continued. “(The receivers) have a very good understanding of what we’re doing and have a good feel for sitting in windows and different things like that, where maybe last year we didn’t have that.”