Coley Harvey | ESPN.com
CINCINNATI — The news Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and his staff were dreading since late Thursday came to fruition Friday.
Geno Atkins, a fourth-year defensive tackle who was re-signed at the start of the season to a deal that will pay him $55 million, was officially diagnosed with a season-ending ACL tear. Results of an MRI conducted in Cincinnati on Friday confirmed the suspicions Bengals trainers had just after the lineman got hurt in the second quarter of Thursday night’s 22-20 overtime loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Initially, Atkins was ruled out of the game with a right knee injury. Lewis told reporters moments after the game that trainers suspected Atkins had an ACL injury. During his Friday news conference, Lewis said he hadn’t received the results of the MRI.
Moments after Lewis spoke, he was told Atkins’ ACL was torn.
Atkins was injured when his leg appeared to roll up underneath one of his teammates and a Dolphins ball carrier who was being tackled at the end of a 3-yard run. As soon as the play was over, Atkins rolled over onto his right side and took off his helmet. The training staff was summoned immediately.
Miami scored four plays after Atkins’ departure. He was on crutches following the game.
“It’s tough, but this team’s had adversity before,” cornerback Terence Newman said. “We’ve just got to fight through it.”
Four days before, the Bengals (6-3) lost four players to injury during a 49-9 win over the New York Jets. Three of those hurt in that game — linebacker Rey Maualuga, defensive back Taylor Mays and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth — were inactive Thursday.
Maualuga is out three to four weeks with knee and concussion injuries, Mays is done for the season after hurting his shoulder, and Whitworth wasn’t available after his left knee was too swollen for him to play Thursday night.
A native of Pembroke Pines, Fla., a South Florida city close to Sun Life Stadium, Atkins entered the game with 18 tackles and five sacks. He had one first-quarter sack on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill before his departure.
“It’s the next man up. It’s time to go. We’ve got to continue,” Thompson said. “I’ve been preparing since I’ve been here, and now it’s my time to step up and do what I have to do.”
Lewis on Friday expressed optimism about another injured lineman, Devon Still. The defensive tackle, who was hurt at Detroit two weeks ago, is “well on his way to progressing back,” the coach said. He wasn’t sure if Still’s elbow injury will have healed by next weekend’s game at Baltimore, but he believed his defensive line depth will get a little stronger with his return.
Lewis didn’t rule out the possibility of the Bengals making moves in free agency to fill Atkins’ spot.
- Previously covered Florida State for Orlando Sentinel and Georgia Tech for Macon Telegraph
- Northwestern University graduate