NFL.com Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins has been one of the most dominant defensive players in the NFL over the last two seasons. It looks like the Bengals might have to get used to life without him. Atkins left the Bengals’ 22-20 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins with a right knee injury Thursday night. NFL Media columnist Michael Silver reports, via a Bengals source that early indications are that Atkins has torn his right ACL. Atkins stayed down on the field for a long time after the injury, and had to be helped off the field by teammates. The two-time All-Pro player was carted off the field and taken to the locker room after. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports that Atkins will get an MRI on his knee Friday to confirm the injury, per a separate Bengals source. “If anyone can come back, he can,” the source added. The Bengals have one of the deepest defensive lines in the league, but there’s no replacing a player like Atkins. The Dolphins ran the ball well all night, but especially after Atkins left the game. The injuries didn’t end there for the Bengals. Running back Giovani Bernard injured his ribs in the fourth quarter and went to the locker room. He returned to the sideline after that, but never returned to the game.
Geno Atkins is one if my favorite players in the NFL, he either the best or second best defensive tackle in football (the other being Suh), and losing him for the season is a huge injury for the Cincinnati Bengals. The Cincinnati Bengals identity is their defensive line being able to stuff the run and pressure the quarterback, and while they still should be able to do this effectively, it gets a lot tougher without the best player in the unit. The Bengals have invested several early draft picks in the defensive line over the past few years, but these players have not seen a lot of reps behind Atkins and Domata Peko, Brandon Thompson (Clemson) and Devon Still (Penn State) are about to get thrown into the fire, and if they can step up the loss of Atkins will be lessened. However, Geno Atkins is the second best player on the Bengals (behind A.J. Green) and losing a player of this caliber is devastating to a franchise.