You may have heard lately that during the Cincinnati Bengals’ game against the Texans, starting safety Shawn Williams suffered an elbow injury that caused him to leave the field. We covered it right here, even including a video of the nasty-looking injury, should you be so inclined to see what happened.
Evidently, the team’s initial impressions are that it may not be as bad as it looked. According to team website writer Geoff Hobson, they currently do not believe that Williams’ elbow injury is as serious as the one suffered by Tyler Eifert a few seasons ago, which caused him to miss the rest of the season after just a handful of snaps.
He writes that the “initial takeaway is that Williams could be back in four to six weeks”, which is a surprisingly swift timeline, and indicates that he could miss as few as just one or two games. If it proves a bit more serious then that then “he could be a candidate for injured reserve-return”.
If the latter option proves necessary, then the starting safety would have to miss at least the first eight games of the season. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Bud Dupree spent more than half of last season before returning from injured reserve.
A veteran defender, Williams entered the starting lineup last season to replace Reggie Nelson, who signed with the Raiders in free agency. At the same time, the Bengals signed him to a four-year extension as he was entering the final season of his rookie contract.
During his first year as a full-time starter, he recorded 81 tackles in 15 games to go along with three interceptions, five passes defensed, and a sack. During the 2015 season, he made four starts and intercepted two passes with five more passes defensed.
To complicate matters, Cincinnati is already without their other starting safety, George Iloka, who suffered a knee injury early in training camp in the waning days of July. At the time, the Bengals were hopeful that he would be ready for the regular season, but that he could miss all of the preseason.
They currently have only three healthy players on the roster who are full-time safeties. Clayton Fejedelem has already been running with the first-team defense in Iloka’s place, but during Saturday’s game, it was Derron Smith who stepped in when Williams went down.
The expectations is that Josh Shaw, who is capable of playing both cornerback and safety, is now going to be asked to focus on safety. The Bengals have depth at cornerback, including former first-round picks in Adam Jones, Dre Kirkpatrick, Darqueze Dennard, and William Jackson III. KeiVarae Russell, a third-round pick of the Chiefs last year, was claimed by them after he was released in 2016, and is said to have had a good camp.