The Bengals had already endured a number of huge injuries.
But losing one of their biggest and certainly their best defender is going to be tough to overcome.
With All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins down with an apparent right ACL injury, the Bengals are short on answers on how to fill in the blanks.
“It sucks because he’s one of the best,” defensive tackle Domata Peko said, via Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He is a big part of our defense. You never want to see anybody go down. We’ll keep him in our prayers and Bengals Nation please keep him in your prayers also.
“In this league it’s the next man up, so Brandon Thompson has to be ready to play a lot more and we have to move on.”
Thompson, last year’s third-round pick, had to fill in the rest of the game without much help. Defensive tackle Devon Still missed a second straight game with an elbow injury, leaving them thin in the middle.
They were already missing cornerback Leon Hall (torn Achilles) and linebacker Rey Maualuga (who could miss another month with an MCL injury) and just put safety Taylor Mays on injured reserve as well.
But as important as any of those pieces might be, the penetrating defensive tackle was the centerpiece of their defense, and “next man up” rings hollow as a saying.