The loss of Geno Atkins to an ACL injury is simply devastating for the Cincinnati Bengals. He is arguably the best defensive tackle in the NFL. There is no replacing Atkins, but the Bengals were prepared to at least absorb the loss. Despite having an extremely strong defensive line at the time, the Bengals led by head coach Marvin Lewis made the extremely prudent move to pick defensive tackles Devon Still and Brandon Thompson in the second and third rounds of 2012 NFL Draft respectively.
The Bengals have the deepest defensive line in the NFL and it has been this type of preparation that has gotten them there. Their defensive line went eight deep coming into the season with Margus Hunt hopefully developing into the ninth after they took him in the second round this past year. Atkins joins defensive end Robert Geathers on injured reserve, which is unfortunate, but the Bengals can have a ‘next man up’ mentality and really mean it.
The loss of Atkins is terrible, but it does provide an opportunity for both Still and Thompson to make the most of an opportunity and potentially shine for the Bengals in the last half of this season and most likely, the playoffs as the Bengals have a decent lead in the AFC North. The Bengals have a week and a half to prepare for the Baltimore Ravens and then the Cleveland Browns before they have their bye week.