Coley Harvey | ESPN.com
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The Cincinnati Bengals have been bitten by the injury bug once again. This time, the victim was a player the team can ill-afford to lose.
Fourth-year defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who was re-signed at the start of the season to a deal that will pay him $55 million, left Thursday night’s game against the Miami Dolphins with a right knee injury that Bengals trainers believe may be related to his anterior cruciate ligament. A Bengals source confirmed to ESPN’s Bob Holtzman that Atkins tore his ACL, but will have an MRI Friday to confirm the diagnosis.
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis told reporters he wasn’t sure if Atkins had an MRI at the stadium that revealed that. He hinted that he wanted further testing of Atkins once the team got back to Cincinnati.
The injury came late in the second quarter of a game that Miami ultimately won in overtime, 22-20. Atkins was replaced at the time by Wallace Gilberry, although reserve defensive end Brandon Thompson will be the player most called upon to fill Atkins’ shoes if the injury is indeed of the season-ending variety the Bengals fear.
“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.”
Atkins’ injury occurred with 4:45 left in the second quarter, when his leg appeared to get rolled 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 immediately summoned as other Bengals kneeled and disappointedly looked on.
After several moments, Atkins eventually was helped up by teammates and helped off the turf by others who flanked his left and right sides. 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 ago, the Bengals lost four players to injury during their 49-9 win over the New York Jets. Three of those hurt in that contest — linebacker Rey Maualuga, defensive back Taylor Mays and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth — were inactive Thursday.
Maualuga is out three to four weeks with a knee and concussion injury, 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 comfortably play Thursday night.
A native of nearby Pembroke Pines, Fla., Atkins entered the game with 18 tackles and five sacks. He had one first-quarter sack on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill before his departure.
The Bengals also briefly lost linebacker James Harrison to a left thumb injury late in the second quarter, and running back Giovani Bernard left for good in the fourth quarter following a 35-yard touchdown run. After dodging a pair of tackles to his right and cutting back across the field during the run, Bernard broke five tackles before flipping into the end zone at the end of the play. Lewis said Bernard had a bruise on one of his ribs.
Dolphins left guard Richie Incognito left the game in the first quarter with a neck injury and was ruled out for the second half. Miami backup Nate Garner filled in for Incognito in the second quarter.
Dolphins cornerback Nolan Carroll was ruled out for the game with a concussion.
Information from ESPN Dolphins reporter James Walker and The Associated Press was used in this report.
- Previously covered Florida State for Orlando Sentinel and Georgia Tech for Macon Telegraph
- Northwestern University graduate