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Sep 16, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins (97) arrives prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals Geno Atkins will start Sunday in return from torn ACL

He’s back. Geno Smith, the Bengals’ most feared defender, will return to action on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals after rehabbing his torn and surgically repaired ACL. He will be featured with the first-team defense.

“Having him back’s a huge deal for us,” Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said, via ESPN. “It’s good to see him back. It definitely means a big deal to us. … I’m sure he’s ready to get back and get his confidence up. I’m sure he’s anxious to get back in there and play with the guys.”

Atkins injured his knee in week 9 of the 2013 season. He tore his ACL on Oct. 31 agains the Miami Dolphins. He has been medically cleared since July 30 but has worked in a limited capacity. He started in position-specific drills and did not start by taking part in 11-on-11 work.

“He looked good,” Guenther said. “Everything’s coming along as planned.”

Head coach Marvin Lewis would’t give reporters much prior to this news of his return. But both coaches emphasized the Atkins’ value.

“Everyone goes through a process and progression,” Marvin Lewis said. “Geno’s done well with it. Guys heal at their own pace and I think in the mental process it’s always going to be at their own pace. But he’s been good.

“Geno Atkins can push [head trainer] Nick Cosgray around the field all day long and it’s not going to be the same. The football aspect he had to get used to and we’ve been able to do that and go slow with it knowing not only his value to the football team, but his value moving forward.”

The mountainous man will take his place as the physical and emotion anchor of the defense. He stops running backs, quarterbacks — heck, he could stop rivers. His return is a reassurance to the Bengals franchise and his impact will be felt all season long.

Tags: Cincinnati Bengals Geno Atkins

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